GULFPORT, MS-The gambling and hospitality industry along the Mississippi Gulf Coast set record revenues and state tax proceeds in 2007, with hotel occupancy in 11 properties ranging about 90% for the year. That’s a rapid recovery after almost being wiped from the Earth in 2005 by the 20-foot tidal surge of Hurricane Katrina, according to the Mississippi Gambling Commission and casino operators.

Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Association of Casino Operators and a member of the Harrison County Visitors Bureau, which covers Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, said 2007 was a banner year due to a shift in customer demographics, primarily a surge in recovery workers, primarily construction, volunteers and government agencies, and increased tourists from Florida and other points in the East.

The quick rebuilding of the casinos – almost all financed by operator capital, debt and insurance and not public subsidies – saw revenues along the coastal area of the state hit the $100 million-per-month record for all of 2007, a highpoint hit only once in 2006 as rebuilding was wrapping up.

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