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Gulf Coast Casinos Rebound From Hurricane Katrina Damage

By Commander Mark Moran, Lt. Phil Eastman, and Lt. Dave Demers, of the NOAA Aviation Weather Center. (NOAA website at [1].) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Helicopter view of Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Treasure Bay Casino Ship pulled out of its permanent moorings then run aground.

When Hurricane Katrina struck 10 years ago, it devastated the gaming industry in Louisiana and Mississippi.

In Biloxi, the storm wiped out two of the city’s ten casinos and heavily damaging eight others.

A decade later, Biloxi’s gaming market has recovered. Howard Stutz went to check out the post-Katrina gaming market along the Gulf Coast.

“When the gaming industry got wiped out, it was a big question: 'Is this going to come back,'” Stutz told KNPR's State of Nevada. “In 10 years, it’s made a comeback.”

According to Stutz, some casinos have rebuilt, like the Beau Rivage and others have not like Casino Magic. Those that were barges like the Treasure Bay, pictured above, moved into buildings in land.

While Biloxi took the brunt of the storm, New Orleans got more headlines because an estimated 80 percent of the city was flooded when the levees broke after the storm.

“Louisiana’s gaming market came back and really it's New Orleans is vibrant again,” Stutz said. “It came back a lot quicker than Biloxi did.”

However, that extra competition from casinos in Louisiana and Florida means the gaming industry along the Mississippi Gulf Coast is no longer the third largest in the country, like it was before the storm hit.

Stutz said Hurricane Katrina certainly wiped out the physical buildings, the slot machines and table games, but it was really the Great Recession three years after the hurricane that really hurt the gaming industry. 

Also from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Gaming industry commitment to New Orleans unwavering after the disaster

Gulf Coast casino workers call area's recovery 'amazing'

Gulf Coast hospitality, charm can't be washed away

Las Vegas-based photographer, from Gulf Coast, reflects on Katrina

Howard Stutz, gaming reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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