88 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI CASINO INDUSTRY SINCE DOCKSIDE CASINO GAMBLING WAS LEGALIZED IN MISSISSIPPI IN THE EARLY 1990s, THE GAMING INDUSTRY—particularly that on the Gulf Coast—has grown to become one of the most profitable industries in the State. In 2011, the Mississippi gaming industry fostered $4.26 billion in state economic activity, employed 25,000 people, and attracted 20 million visitors from outside the state. With twelve casinos that provide twenty-four-hour gaming and attract tourists from across the country and around the world, the Gulf Coast accounts for much of the state gaming profits. In 2014, the Gulf Coast casino market ranked eighth nationally, with a total revenue of $2.095 billion. In addition to helping fuel the state and national economy, the Coast region’s multi-billion-dollar casino industry provides a host of benefits at the local level as well. For example, casino profits in recent years have allowed Biloxi to invest millions of dollars in public education and public safety, lower property taxes, and more. Perhaps most important, casino resorts provide Mississippians with thousands of employment opportunities. The Beau Rivage alone employs almost 1,400 people, the IP Casino employs over 1,200, and the Island View Casino employees roughly 1,300. Interestingly, casinos are one of the largest donors to charitable causes on the Gulf Coast. For example, the Beau Rivage raised over $180,000 for nonprofits serving South Mississippi and coastal Alabama during a MGM employee- giving campaign in 2012. Today, as thousands of tourists continue to flock to the Coast for its attractive gaming opportunities, the casino industry remains an integral part of the coastal and state socioeconomic landscape. PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLAND VIEW CASINO