Gulf Coast update

Projections of the damage caused by Katrina, it seems, keep getting worse. The governor of Mississippi was quoted as saying that all Gulf Coast casinos had been completely destroyed. Even if it’s not that dire, it looks very bad. Any destruction of property, of course, pales beside the loss of human life, just as any talk of rebuilding takes a back seat to the immediate effort to save lives.

From BusinessWeek:

Hurricane Katrina picked up several Gulf Coast casinos and hurled them hundreds of yards inland, crippling the region’s gambling industry for months and potentially even years.

At least three of the floating barge casinos in hard-hit Biloxi were tossed from their moorings by the storm’s 25-foot wall of water, their barnacle-covered hulls coming to rest up to 200 yards from the shore.

At the Grand Casino, the walkway visitors once took from the lobby to the poker rooms and blackjack tables was now an open hole into the bay. All the windows were blown out. The mast of a sunken sailboat stuck up from where the barge once was.

Gary Loveman, chairman of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., the world’s largest gambling company, told CNBC the casino was “probably ruined.” Aerial footage showed the ravaged barge had washed ashore and landed on the other side of a busy highway.

“I think it will have to be cut into pieces simply to be moved out of there,” Loveman said.

At the Beau Rivage, Biloxi’s most opulent casino, the first and second floors were blown out. Mattresses, chairs and yellow insulation were in piles on the once-manicured landscaping.

Bernie Burkholder, president and chief executive of Treasure Bay Casino in Biloxi, told The Associated Press the casino was “a total loss” in excess of $100 million.

He estimated losses would be even greater at many of the other coast casinos. Statewide damage estimates were not available, and efforts to reach Mississippi Gaming Commission director Larry Gregory on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The first two gambling floors at the Hard Rock casino were blown out by Katrina. The casino hadn’t even opened to the public yet — that was supposed to happen Sept. 8.

“We had worked hard to put this place together,” Hard Rock employee Debra Harville said as she surveyed the damage. “It was so beautiful. I don’t know what I”m going to do now. A lot of people ain’t got nowhere to go.”

Katrina cripples Gulf gambling industry

There’s little more to say.

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