FROM THE VAULT: State’s first legal casinos open

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:33 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There’s a whole generation of Mississippians who cannot remember a time when there were no casinos in this state.

But gambling was not allowed until the 1990s, when the state legislature legalized casinos - as long as they were floating on water.

The state’s first legal casino, the Isle of Capri in Biloxi, opened on the first of August in 1992, and WLBT’s Warren Strain was there.

The Isle would be the first of many on the coast, but developers also set their sights on the Mississippi River. They opened the first casino in Natchez, the Lady Luck, in February of 1993.

That summer, Vicksburg put its toe in the water with another Isle of Capri.

Most of the state’s casinos at first were actual boats, but they evolved into huge barge-based operations, some of which were connected to hotels on dry ground.

The industry got a new player in 1994 when the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians opened the Silverstar in Neshoba County. It was the state’s only casino not floating in a body of water, since it was on tribal property.

The Silverstar was joined by the Golden Moon across the street in 2002.

There are now 26 casinos in Mississippi, not including those on tribal lands.

In the last fiscal year, the Gaming Commission says those 26 generated more than $162 million for the state’s general fund, and just over $100 million for local governments.

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