Casinos to reopen next week, Gov. discusses CARES Act and MDOC search

During his daily press briefing, Governor Tate Reeves discussed several topics including the reopening of Mississippi’s casinos, the latest developments surrounding the distribution of CARES Act funding, and he provided an update on the search for a new commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. 

Casinos

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has confirmed a report that casinos across the state will be allowed to reopen on Thursday, May 21st at 8 a.m.

According to the MGC, the guidelines for reopening will be announced tomorrow morning. 

Because the decision to close casinos was made by the commission, Governor Tate Revees indicated that he does not have to issue an executive order allowing them to reopen. 

“If the Gaming Commission has released their decision, it is final and it is official,” he said during the briefing. 

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, gaming accounts for $4.5 million of the state’s revenue each week. Casinos have been closed since mid-March.

CARES Act 

Late last night, lawmakers passed a bill that will allocate $300 million of CARES Act funding to assist small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation will provide $60 million in direct payments to businesses that were forced to shut down such as hairstylists, fitness centers, and some restaurants. The remaining $240 million will be issued through grants to businesses with 50 employees or fewer. 

“There is a lot more money to get out and not much time to do it, but I’m glad we were able to get this done. My priority from day one has been the quick release of these funds to get it back to the people who need it,” he said.

After an initial disagreement over who held the authority to administer Mississippi’s $1.25 billion of CARES Act funds, the leaders of the Legislature and the Governor are now working together on the plan. 

MDOC 

Back in January, Governor Reeves announced the beginning of a nationwide search for a new MDOC Commissioner following the departure of Pelicia Hall, and Tommy Taylor has since served as Interim Commissioner. 

A task force, led by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, was asked to provide a recommendation to the Governor. The task force provided the Governor with three candidates, and today, he gave a timeline for a potential decision. 

“My timeframe, with respect to MDOC, is as soon as humanly possible, so I would hope to be able to do something certainly this month,” he said.