According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, amusement and recreation construction decreased 3% from 2004 to 2005. The 2006 forecast isn't looking favorable either — with just a 2.1% increase predicted. However, this number may get an unexpected boost from Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
Twelve of Mississippi's 29 casinos are along the coast in Biloxi and Gulfport. According to preliminary reports from the state, that area was hit with some of Hurricane Katrina's strongest winds, and several of those coastal casinos suffered extensive flooding. On July 1, Mississippi passed a new statute that allows casinos, previously required to be anchored on barges on the water, to be situated on-shore on pilings within 1,500 feet of the water. This has prompted the Mississippi Casino Operators Association to report that new mega structures should emerge within the next five years, with some existing properties also planning to add 20,000 to 90,000 square feet of retail space.
Biloxi's city government has predicted that it could have 15 to 20 casinos in the next three to five years. The city, which already has nine casinos, expects to see an investment in that period that may exceed the $5 billion spent over the previous 13 years.
Mississippi's $3 billion gambling industry, the third-largest in the U.S. after Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., employs more than 35,000 people and pours nearly half a billion dollars of tax revenue annually into the local economy. The state stands to lose about $500,000 a day in tax dollars while the Gulf Coast casinos are closed.