Amid the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, which crashed upon the Gulf coast states on Monday, were very important parts of the Mississippi economy. While it is ridiculous to worry about gaming establishments during a period of devastation such as this, the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina will be felt in that area especially hard. If the major casinos of the Mississippi coast cannot be rebuilt or it takes a long period of time to do such, the economic toll on the area will be just as severe as the current physical damage.
Hurricane Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on the morning of August 29th. Particularly hard hit was the coast of Mississippi, which holds many of the major gaming houses of the state. It was on the east side of the eye of the storm and bore the major winds and waves that were brought by Katrina, measured at around 140 MPH and a storm surge of twenty feet.
In an article in the Biloxi Sun Herald, Biloxi mayor A. J. Holloway reported that five of the major casinos were out of commission. Part of the Grand Casino Biloxi was washed across and blocking Highway 90, the major roadway through the coastal area. The Copa Casino, another major coastal casino, was washed completely from the waters offshore (which is where the gaming houses on the coast are located) into a parking lot of the Grand Casino. The Hard Rock Café, set to open in September, was partially destroyed, although its signature guitar still stood.
The impact of the loss of casino revenue will be severe to the state of Mississippi and to the residents of that area. The casinos of the coast of Mississippi recently showed a take of $108.6 million in June 2005 alone and many of the people employed in those casinos came from the local area. Long term downtime, or even closure, will be devastating to the local, county and state economies.
Something else that will also face a serious possibility of cancellation will be the World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Grand Casino Biloxi, which was scheduled for September 29th through October 12th. Power in the area is estimated to be out for days, if not weeks, and even with a Herculean effort at cleanup and rebuilding, it would be very difficult to get the area in shape for such a tournament to be conducted.
While the physical impact of Hurricane Katrina is visibly severe and the gaming houses will be closed for some time, now is not the time to be concerned with such matters. What has to be worried about is the human cost that this devastating storm has brought upon the people of the Gulf Coast. People will have died and many others will face the very real prospect of having lost everything in the mighty storm. When viewed in the wider picture, gambling and poker tournaments are pretty minor in the scheme of things.