Mississippi was the third state to legalize riverboat gambling when it was approved by that state's legislature in 1990. The law restricts casinos to coast waters (including the Bay of St. Louis and the Back Bay of Biloxi) along the Mississippi River and in navigable waters of counties that border the river. Mississippi law also requires that riverboats be permanently moored at the dock and they are not permitted to cruise. This allows the riverboats to offer 24-hour dockside gambling. The Isle of Capri in Biloxi was the first casino to open on August 1, 1992 followed one month later by The President Casino. Since the law does not require that the floating vessel actually resemble a boat, almost all of the casinos are built on barges. This gives them the appearance of a land-based building, rather than a riverboat.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission does not break down its slot statistics by individual properties. Rather, they are classified by region. The coastal region includes Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay Saint Louis. The north river region includes Tunica, Robinsonville, Greenville and Lula. The south river region includes Vicksburg and Natchez. With that in mind here's information, as supplied by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, showing the machine payback percentages for each area's casinos for the one-year period from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including video poker and video keno. The best returns for each category are highlighted in bold print and you can see that the southern and coastal casinos offered the best returns in almost every category. Mississippi is one of the few states that breaks down its progressive machine statistics separately and you can see that the return is always much less on the machines with progressive jackpots. Unless otherwise noted, all casinos are open 24 hours and offer: slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker and Caribbean Stud Poker. Other game listings include: baccarat (B), mini-baccarat (MB), pai gow poker (PGP), let it ride (LIR), three card poker (TCP), casino war (CW), big six wheel (B6) and keno (K). The minimum gambling age is 21. For more information on visiting Mississippi call the state's tourism department at (800) 927-6378. For Biloxi tourism information call (800) 237-9493 and for tourism information on Robinsonville call (888) 4-TUNICA.