As he prepares to leave his post as executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Larry Gregory said legislators need to find ways to help the state’s gambling industry as it faces increased competition from online gambling and from new, non-gaming tourist attractions.
“We cannot exist on bringing people to play blackjack anymore,” Gregory said. He noted Mississippi is unlikely to allow internet gambling in-state or promote building additional casinos. As a result, Gregory suggested lawmakers consider investing in attractions near its waterfront casinos, including convention centers, water parks and racetracks. “There’s been talk on the coast, but also Tunica, of bringing some mega-race track into the facilities,” he said.
But, he noted, gambling in Mississippi is growing despite the economy and other challenges. “We’ve got 10 approved sites down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In addition, we just approved the Margaritaville with Jimmy Buffett. That was very, very exciting,” Gregory said.
Gregory joined the Mississippi Gaming Commission as chief of staff in 1995 and became executive director in 2001. He also worked for the state transportation commission and personnel board. The gaming commission hopes to name his replacement by August.