Posted on: August 17, 2022, 11:46h.
Last updated on: August 17, 2022, 12:40h.
A man twice suffered big losses at Mississippi casinos, got intoxicated both times, and then allegedly attacked his girlfriend. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson announced that Christopher Neal McAlister, 45, of Hattiesburg, Miss. was sentenced to 45 years. Thirty years of the sentence was suspended if he successfully completes the 15-year term.
Two years ago, McAlister assaulted and choked his then-girlfriend following the casino losses. In one instance in May 2020, he lost the money at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville, Miss.
McAlister then attacked the woman. He was charged with domestic violence and aggravated assault, the Sun Herald, a Biloxi, Miss. newspaper said.
A few months later, in November 2020, he lost money from the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis. He allegedly struck the woman while in a vehicle traveling away from the gaming venue.
McAlister also threatened to injure her if she left the car while it was at a gas station, the Sun Herald said. But she escaped and located a police officer.
McAlister later was then charged with domestic violence, simple assault, and kidnapping, the report added.
Earlier, McAlister was convicted three times for domestic violence since 2008, the newspaper reported.
“That’s 14 years and you’ve done nothing,” Dodson scolded McAlister in court, the Sun Herald said.
Instead of the prison term, McAlister wanted to become a patient at an alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation facility.
But Dodson was skeptical he would complete the extended program.
I think you got off lightly today,” Dodson said to McAlister about the 15-year term in prison before he is put on probation. “I’m not going to take a chance on you.”
Earlier this month, Casino.org reported that Mississippi casino revenue in 2021 totaled $2.669 billion. That represents the state gaming industry’s highest haul in more than a decade.
The state’s casinos last year generated more gross gaming revenue (GGR) than they had since 2008. Mississippi has 26 casinos. Nearly half of the state’s casinos are along the Gulf Coast.
Also, more than 20 million visitors came to the state’s casinos in 2021. More half of these visitors came from out of state.
But so far this year, the gambling sector in the state is showing signs of a slowdown. Record inflation has caused unrest in US markets. It could impact the pent-up demand for travel and entertainment, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first six months of 2021, GGR totaled $1.318 billion. Through the first six months of 2021, casino win totaled $1.369 billion.
The state’s tourism sector also has not seen the return of foreign visitors to the state for casino visits. About 185,000 foreigners visited Mississippi in 2019. That was the last full year before the pandemic hit.