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Challenges and Opportunities

   Nevertheless, both MSAs remain in recovery mode.
   "The one thing that makes you wonder how fast they can come back is the sheer volume of the housing destruction," says Scott. "Housing is a major issue there not only in terms of the sheer destruction – about 100,000 homes in those areas were rendered uninhabitable – but also because the rebuild effort is being hampered by two things. One is the slow payout of the Road Home federal money for homeowners. Secondly, the homeowners insurance issue is a huge issue. Anecdotally, I can tell you that in part of Louisiana, the homeowners insurance premium is bigger than the mortgage payment. It's a huge issue in the region that has captured the attention of all the policymakers."
   Looking ahead, visitors to the area will see a new and improved casino industry that will pose a bigger competitive threat to Louisiana's gaming industry.

Loren C. Scott & Associates

Mississippi Development Auth.

Some predict the industry on Mississippi's Gulf Coast will one day rival that of Atlantic City, N.J. Significantly higher casino taxes in Louisiana will add momentum to the re- emergence of Gulfport- Biloxi as a leisure destination. Mississippi's state tax on casinos is 8 percent; in Louisiana, it's 21.5 percent.
   "That means the slots in the Mississippi casinos will be a lot looser," says Scott. "It doesn't take gamblers very long to figure that out."

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