If you’re doing business in the South, or would like to be, you don’t want to miss the Southern Gaming Summit, May 5-6, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center in Biloxi.

This is the largest industry trade show in North America outside Las Vegas. It is set in the heart of a region that hosts some of the biggest and most elaborate resort casinos on the continent. Taking its commercial and tribal casinos together, land-based and riverboats, its principal markets of Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama generate well more than $8 billion a year in revenues from gambling games alone.

And, as always, the South is anything but dull - but no doubt you’ve been following the high-stakes battle between the Seminoles and the Florida Legislature over a federally mandated casino compact, and the political follies in Alabama over electronic bingo, and all the heady talk of late of a “Las Vegas East” in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, so you know this.

Add it all up and Southern Gaming Summit represents two days of incomparable opportunities for building your institutional knowledge, for serious networking - and, of course, for checking out the newest games and technologies.

Which is true this year more than ever because the summit is being joined by BingoWorld Conference and Expo, the largest annual bingo show in the world. Floor space at the Convention Center is up 30 percent over 2009. Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association - which produces the show in partnership with BNP Media, publishers of Casino Journal and Slot Manager - was right on the mark when she said recently that the 2010 Southern Gaming Summit will be “something special”.

By way of context, and to give you an idea of the scope of this year’s event, to date, more than 155 commercial and tribal operators - casinos, racinos, racetracks and non-profits - along with manufacturers and suppliers, governments and public agencies, educators and media organizations will be represented. Exhibitors include the biggest names in the industry - and some of the biggest, period: like Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch.

And, as implied above, there will be plenty to talk about. This is a region that battled back from Katrina and Rita just in time to greet the worst recession in the brief history of gaming in the South. The industry down there is probably the most varied of any in the country. It’s a region of conflict and tension, of intense competition and extraordinary cooperation as well. It’s also a region looking at the possibility of significant expansion in key markets. Some of the best minds in the industry will be addressing all this. The conference portion of Southern Gaming Summit, as always, will be top-notch. The hottest new slots and the latest trends in machine gaming and table games will be examined; networked and system-based gaming will be explored; there are special sessions dedicated to marketing strategies, including social media, tribal and Class II gaming, gaming in the Caribbean and travel trends in a post-recessionary age of value.

If the South is your market there simply is nowhere else to get this.

BingoWorld, likewise, will be delivering one-of-a-kind informational sessions conveniently segmented into tracks covering technology, marketing and promotions and operations and customer service. There is also the entirely unique experience of Bingo University, now in its fourth year, a hands-on, classroom-style environment designed to provide the tools operators and their staffs need to successfully market their venues and maximize revenues. The demands of the 21st century bingo hall will be explored in-depth in sessions devoted to electronic bingo and Internet bingo. Attendees also will hear from the experts on effective cost controls, proper accounting methods and procedures and venue improvement and maintenance.

Whatever your business, commercial, tribal or charity, you’ll want to be in Biloxi next month. We at Casino Journal look forward to seeing you there.