The state of flux in which Mississippi casino gaming had been mired for years, particularly along the Gulf Coast, after Hurricane Katrina seems to have settled, and today about 30 gambling houses are open for business – in permanent locations.
As for that Gulf Coast region, the 14 casinos open in 2006 has been reduced to 11, but the quality gaming centered in Biloxi is back to high standards. Once again, Mississippi can enjoy its reputation as a gem for gamblers in the American South.
Population: 3.01 million (2017 est.)
Area: 48,434 sq. mi.
Gambling Age (Casinos): 21
Gambling Age (Lottery): n/a
Number of Casinos: about 30
• Mississippi University for Women became the U.S. first public women's college, opening in 1884.
• A group of slaves freed from Mississippi in 1834 is credited with founding Liberia.
• Jackson is one of four host cities of the International Ballet Competition. The others are Helsinki, Finland; Moscow, Russia; and Varna, Bulgaria.
• In 2001, a public referendum on changing the state flag failed by a vote of 64% to 36%. Another such vote has not been taken. Because institutionalized racism.
Incredibly enough, legal gambling in Mississippi goes all the way back to at least 1795, when the Fleetfield Race Track was built in Natchez in 1795 under auspices of Spanish colonial rule. Mississippi only became a stae in 1817 and so was one of the few states whose original constitution explicitly legalized a form of gambling other than lotteries.
The heyday of riverboat gambling in Mississippi state ran from the 1830s to the Civil War, while at this time numerous casino hotels were doing business in Natchez, Biloxi and Vicksburg. The post-war peiord saw riverboat gambling return, though Mississippians were finding other diversion to bet upon in the late 19th century, including the schooner racing craze of the 1890s.
While Prohibition caused some significant backlash against gambling in much of the U.S. in the 1920s, this was certainly not so in Mississippi. Ship owners and casinos did brisk business in the illegal alcohol trade, which kept the customers coming to Mississippi casinos.
Interestingly enough, an early Mississippi casino provided an interesting warning about messing with local environments – if anyone was listening, that is. The Isle of Caprice Casino was built on Dog Key Island and was quite popular for four years before a combination of tourists and summer storms wore down the beach ecosystem and the island began to erode. The casino was underwater by 1932.
With gambling in Mississippi so popular into the 1950s, a political backlash began. Federal investigations into organized crime in Mississippi began in ’51. At this time, the Biloxi Protestant Ministerial Association joined the action as part of their crusade to illegalize slot machines based on a state law of 1942. The Senate’s investigation turned up nothing of substance, forever, and all Mississippi gaming operators got was a verbal moral admonishment from D.C. politicos. The ministers’ moves were all for nought as well.
When the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) came into being in 1988, folks in Mississippi were well accustomed to gambling, and thus welcomed large-scale Native American-run operations.
Traditional-style riverboat gambling was essentially destroyed in 2005 with the touching down of Hurrican Katrina on the Gulf Coast. Most facilities were unworkable after the storm and thus no such casinos are open in Mississippi today.
Casinos in Mississippi number about 30, and include locations in Biloxi, along the Gulf Coast, Vicksburg, Tunica, Gulfport, Natchez, Choctaw and more.
The top spots for gamers to stop are the Tunica Resorts area and Biloxi; these locations boast 10 and nine casinos, respectively. Among the latter’s offerings are the famous Beau Rivage and a Hard Rock Casino franchise. In Tunica Resorts, names like Ballys and Harrah’s do business; in fact, Harrah’s moved to the spa location from Vicksburg in the mid-2000s.
One must be 21 years of age to gamble in Mississippi casinos. Sadly, no more horse racing is run in Mississipi and the state oddly has no lottery, so we can’t tell you anything about ages to gamble at those places…
O, the most famous face in gambling from Mississippi has got to be the state’s most famous celebrity, Mr. Elvis.Presley. Elvis is more associated with Las Vegas than any other musical or entertainment act and, while Elvis wasn’t necessarily know for his fondness of gambling, his boss Col. Parker sure was, rumored to have been capable of dropping millions on a weekend in Las Vegas. (You think it’s any coincidence Elvis got planted in Nevada for the final third of his career? Come on.)
Plus, there’s the album Hayrides & Gambling Halls…
As you’ve probably surmised, most forms of gambling have been legalized and are regulated in Mississippi: casions, poker, bingo, daily fantasy sports online, etc. Though no horse racing tracks exist, in theory this is also legal.
Surely it’s more of the same, right? It’s going to be pretty tough to roll back entertainment which has been allowed for 225 years or so when the majority of the population still has no problems with the vice in question. About the only changes in the Mississippi gambling landscape are just how big things can get. One wonders how quickly this state might legalize gambling online, but we reckon that Mississippi should be the second-to-last to ever illegalize games of chance.