Gaming Summit to Focus on Economy

Six countries, 32 states to be represented

Biloxi –The focus will be different for this year’s Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi next week, switching from the rebuilding of the industry that has dominated the annual meeting since Hurricane Katrina to navigating the economy in 2008.

„There’s a lot of uncertainty out there right now,“ said Cathy Beeding, vice president and general counsel at Island View Casino and a panelist for the opening presentation, „Decision 2008: What’s at Stake for Gaming?“

Bobby Moak, chairman of the state House Gaming Committee, will moderate the panel that Beeding said will look at the economy, the cost of fuel, the expansion of the Seminole casinos in Florida and the Nevada teachers‘ union quest to get some of the casino tax in that state.

A welcome reception at the IP Casino Resort opens the summit Tuesday night and two full days of panel discussions are planned for May 7 and 8 at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center. Casino law and slot machines are the topics of several sessions, and the Regulator Roundtable on Wednesday will bring together the gaming regulators from Mississippi, New Jersey and Louisiana.

„Building a Destination“ will look at the casino industry’s role in creating tourist destinations. Other sessions will examine the hot topics of casino security and casinos and Wall Street. Gov. Haley Barbour will speak on Wednesday.

Mississippi Casino Operators Association Executive Director Beverly Martin is particularly excited about the final presentation Thursday, „PowerConnect Plus: Leveraging Diversity for Global ‚Smart Growth,'“ which will give women- and minority-owned businesses the opportunity to connect with casino purchasing agents.

Martin said the expo that showcases computer games, products and services is fully booked, and people from around the country are coming to Biloxi for the summit.

Registration is required and „attendance is up about 10 percent this year,“ Martin said. With most of the registrations coming in the last few days before the event, she expects that number to double.

„We’ve already had six different countries and 32 states“ represented, Martin said. She thinks there is great interest in Mississippi and its continuing high casino revenue numbers. „We’re not the norm. I think they are coming to see what our secret is.“