Event Details

May 13, 7 p.m. – “All bets are …,IP Casino Resort Spa, The Gulf Coast gaming industry has witnessed its share of expansions and contractions before and since Katrina, and the changes are continuing to occur. Find out where we were, what happened and where we’re headed. Panelists: John Hairston, chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission; Alan Godfrey, director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission; Michael Cavanaugh, longtime Biloxi gaming attorney; and Chevis Swetman, longtime Biloxi banker. Moderator Len Blackwell, former chair of Mississippi Gaming Commission.


GodfreyAllen Godfrey is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, which is responsible for regulating the gaming industry in the State of Mississippi.  He has been with the MGC since 2003, serving as the Director of the Compliance Division, and most recently, as Deputy Director.

Allen’s twenty years of public service began at the Mississippi State Tax Commission, now known as the Department of Revenue.  While at the Tax Commission, he assisted in collecting the taxes, developing internal controls, and auditing gaming before the MGC became an independent agency in 1993.  He served as Deputy Director for

the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the Tax Commission before coming to the MGC.




Cavanaugh1Michael Cavanaugh –  Michael Cavanaugh’s first involvement with gaming was in December 1987. He represented the Europa Star, the first “cruise to nowhere” in the State of Mississippi. In the 28 years of experience in gaming development and regulatory issues, he has represented parties on both the private and public side of gaming transactions.

He played a role in the legalization of dockside gaming in 1990 testifying before both the House of Representatives and State Senate of Mississippi. He was involved in the referendum process in Harrison County, Mississippi that led to the opening of the fist dockside gaming facility in August 1992, in Biloxi.  Michael was actively involved in the legislative effort that led to land based gaming in September 2005.

Since the advent of gaming in Mississippi, Michael has gained a wealth of experience in the industry and served as Chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Attorneys section of the Mississippi Bar Association 2004-2005, as well as a member of the International Association of Gaming Attorneys. He represents various interests including landowners, developers/operators, financial institutions, and governmental entities.

Clients have included The Isle of Capri Casinos, Boyd Gaming, Penn National Gaming, Foxwoods Development, Jacobs Entertainment, The President Casino, Hard Rock International, Margaritaville, Beau Rivage Resorts and MGM International, among others.

In his representation of developers/operators, Michael Cavanaugh has had extensive dealings with gaming regulators, as well as City, County and State officials.

On the public side, Michael Cavanaugh has represented the City of D’Iberville, Mississippi as its gaming counsel, and served as Special Gaming Counsel, Corporation of Hamilton, Bermuda and as Special Counsel to the City of Biloxi, Mississippi on Indian Gaming.

As a result of his long-term involvement in the industry, he maintains contact with casino companies throughout the United States and the Caribbean, and is frequent guest speaker to industry groups and educational institutions.

HairstonJohn M. Hairston
President & Chief Executive Officer
Hancock Holding Company, Hancock Bank, and Whitney Bank

John M. Hairston is President and CEO of Hancock Holding Company, Hancock Bank, and Whitney Bank.  Hancock Holding has been noted by Veribanc as one of America’s strongest, safest banks for 101 consecutive quarters, over 25 years.  Hairston joined the 115-year-old financial services company in 1994.  Earlier in his career, he specialized in financial services consulting with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

Active in business, community, economic development, and educational initiatives throughout his native Mississippi, he was appointed in 2005 and 2010 to the Mississippi Gaming Commission as one of the three-member body who regulate the industry, and was appointed Chairman in 2012 by Governor Phil Bryant.  His service on the commission continued through the end of 2014. He serves as Co-Chairman of Governor Phil Bryant’s GoCoast 2020 Commission Tourism Committee, is a member of the American Bankers Association Board of Directors and Audit Committee, is Chairman of the Financial Education and Advocacy Committee in Washington, DC, is vice chair of the American Banker Government Relations Committee, and is Trustee and Executive Committee member of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.