As if the coronavirus pandemic was not bad enough, last year’s hurricane season took its toll on Gulf Coast casinos. This year’s calendar is racing towards June 1 and the start of the new season. This has casino operators in the region keeping an eye to the sky. Gulf Coast casinos are primarily located in the coastal regions of Mississippi and Louisiana. Last year, several were battered through a number of named storms.
Gulf Coast Casinos Prepare For The hurricane season runs six months from June 1 through Nov. 30.
Allen Godfrey is the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. This group monitors hurricanes throughout the season to assess each storm for potential landfall. Part of this includes a storm’s “potential for destruction.”
Putting things into context, he stated:
“As it gets closer and we can get a better picture of it, the commission will start communicating with the operators for action that may be taken. Should the decision be made to actually close the casino, then the operators start removing patrons, dealing with the cash and securing the premises and running reports.”
Follow a strong storm with area impacts, commission staff members make actual casino visits. The main purpose of the visit is to monitor the process for reopening after the storm.
There are 26 land-based casinos in Mississippi alone. Twelve of those gaming facilities are located on the Gulf Coast with eight in the Biloxi area.
Neighboring Louisiana turns to the Gaming Enforcement Division for guidance on hurricanes. This group will work with riverboat casinos this time of the year “to ensure preparations are being made.”
According to Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police, the process ensures compliance with inclement weather from any storms. It also covers high-water procedures that are put into place.
Louisiana operates 13 casinos housed in riverboats. There is a land-based casino located in the city of New Orleans. There are also four racinos in this state.
Tensions remain a bit high in both states coming off a rough 2020 hurricane season. The Lake Charles area of South Louisiana was hit by two major storms in a span of six weeks. Following Hurricane Laura, the same area was impacted by Hurricane Delta.
ザ・ Isle of Capri riverboat casino is located in Lake Charles. It became unmoored by the impacts of Laura and eventually rammed into an area bridge. That casino remains closed while undergoing repairs. It is expected to eventually reopen sometime next year.
A series of hurricanes and tropical storms impacted the Gulf Coast region throughout last year’s season. Later in the year, Hurricane Zeta slammed into the New Orleans area. The overall impact of this October storm was felt from the Big Easy to the Mississippi coast east of the city.
Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming suffered more than $5 million in damage to casino properties in the region.
Overall, there were 30 named storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. All told, 12 of those storms made landfall in the US with five impacting the Gulf Coast.