Full House at Gaming Summit - Thursday 12th of May 2005

It's easy to lose track of time walking through the exposition hall at the Southern Gaming Conference. "You can find the latest slot machines, sexy women in short dresses and steaming roast beef sandwiches among the many displays. For those who purchase tickets to the summit, it's eye-opening to learn how many types of businesses sell goods and services to casinos.

They include security firms, uniform retailers and construction companies. Bulova, the watch company, even has a display. "…Early birds to the conference had the opportunity to hear the outlook of some Wall Street analysts. Most of the conferees were far more familiar with the Nevada, Florida and northeastern markets than what's going on in the Deep South. "We here in Mississippi tend to be a bit defensive, and having said that, it sort of threw me for a loop when the analysts used the adjective 'flat'to discuss the state's casino industry. Revenues rise each year as more and more casinos open for business.

"The one who seemed to really know this market was Daniel Davila, with Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. He talked about the Isle of Capri expansion in comparison to the Biloxi Hard Rock, noting that it's actually a bigger capital investment. "Davila and the other analysts agreed the Coast needs a better airport. "…The Biloxi Hard Rock was a subtext in just about every session. It was mentioned by the Wall Street analysts. It was mentioned in the context of new slot machines. Some of the people who are making the project happen, part-owner Roy Anderson III and Chief Operating Officer Joe Billhimer, seemed to always have two or three people hanging around…"

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