For Gulf Casino, a Brief Lull in the Action
The Gulf Coast woke up and got down to the work of cleaning up from Hurricane Isaac on Friday, heading out under cloudy skies to find groceries and then returning home to fill trash bags and pry plywood from windows.
Map of Hurricane Isaac’s Path
Efforts to Relieve Dam Continue in Mississippi (September 1, 2012)
Low-Profile Victims Hard-Hit on Gulf Coast (August 31, 2012)
Connect With Us on Twitter
Follow @NYTNational for breaking news and headlines.
Twitter List: Reporters and Editors
But here on the floor of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, the wheels of fortune spun and the lucky doubled down. The party had already begun the night before.
The 1,740-room hotel and casino, half of which sits on a barge jutting into the Gulf of Mexico, was the first of the Biloxi casinos to reopen, welcoming three poker players to a table just before 6 p.m., the last effects of the storm still blowing outside. Five of the 12 casinos on the coast here managed to open later Thursday night, when many businesses were still dark. The rest were scheduled to be opened by Saturday.
Seven years ago, when Hurricane Katrina pulled the Beau Rivage slot machines and craps tables into the ocean, it took $550 million and a year to reopen. On Thursday, in a feat that seemed as coordinated as a sophisticated military operation, it took just under five hours.
It would be hard to overestimate the economic importance of getting the coastal casinos back in business. In July alone, they took in $110 million. The state gets 8 percent of that, and the cities and counties get 4 percent. Every day that the casinos were closed, the local government lost $100,000.
“Why are they open?” asked Jordan Brooks, a retired school administrator playing a video poker machine on Thursday night. “There is no secret,” he said, rubbing his fingers together and making the international sign for money.