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All Bets Are Off Concerning Gulf Coast Casino Comeback

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 5th September 2005 9:55pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


Just a week ago the Grand Casino Biloxi gambling barge floated gently on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Now it stretches awkwardly across the lanes of U.S. Highway 90 in Mississippi, ripped from its moorings by the storm surge that followed Hurricane Katrina.

The 106,300-square-foot structure about the size of a Target department store is a total loss, along with its 2,800 slot machines and 89 roulette, craps and blackjack tables.

"They will have to break it up and cart it away in dump trucks to get the highway open," said Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

When that happens, workers will haul off a large piece of an industry that has helped revive this corner of one of the poorest states in the nation. As the gaming companies search for their employees, and make sure they have paychecks and medical insurance that will work in neighboring states, no one is predicting how long it will take for the industry to come back.

Until Katrina swept through Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, visitors to the state's Gulf Coast left more than $1.2 billion annually in the coffers of the 13 casinos that in little more than a decade have transformed a once-sleepy backwater into a thriving tourist destination.

"The Mississippi Gulf Coast had almost no economy before the casinos came," Gregory said.



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