Palace in Biloxi used by FEMA
reported by GrandForksHerald.com
Palace Mississippi hotel and casino in Biloxi, Miss.,
weathered Hurricane Katrina better than the rest of the
dozen hotel/casinos in the Gulf city and is being used
by FEMA as a headquarters in disaster relief.
is owned by the family of the late Ralph Engelstad, the
Thief River Falls native who built casinos in Las Vegas
and Biloxi, as well as the hockey arenas in Grand Forks
and Thief River Falls.
law requires that all casinos are on the water, so the
Imperial's "land-based," 1,100-room, 32-story
hotel is linked by ramps to the casino on a barge on Biloxi's
back bay, said Jeremy Handel, public relations director
for the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.
hurricane damaged the exterior of the hotel, and the ramps
between the casino and hotel snapped as they are designed
to do in a bad storm, Handel said. The casino's exterior
appears to be little damaged, he said, but the full extent
of the damage isn't known yet.
casino and hotel were closed by state order over the weekend
and all guests evacuated.
are trying to reach all our employees, and making sure
that everyone is OK," Handel said. "There is
a lack of communication. We have had some contact. Some
of our engineers and staff have gone down there to see
what they can find."
members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have
set up shop in the Imperial's hotel, Handel said.
reported by Hotel Interactive
New Orleans sustained "minor to moderate"
damage, Pinnacle said, while Casino Magic Biloxi sustained
"substantial" damage to the floating casino
and 22-story hotel.
well-represented in storm-pounded states, Atlanta-based
Jameson Inns Inc., which operates 122 properties, reported
that none of its in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana or Mississippi
hotels endured significant damage or interrupted business.
Jameson hotels affected by the hurricane remain open,
the company said. Jameson Inns operates 18 properties
in Alabama, six in Mississippi and three in Louisiana,
though none near New Orleans.
But Harrah's Entertainment Inc. was less certain about
the status of its properties in the ravaged region. Tuesday,
the company said it still could not estimate the full
extent of damage at Harrah's
New Orleans, Grand
Casino Biloxi and Grand
Casino Gulfport, though it was sure the latter two
properties suffered extensive damage.
said it expected Harrah's
New Orleans to remain closed for at least four weeks.
The gaming giant said it expected estimates of its uninsured
operating loss from the loss of casino business to clock
in at roughly 0.5 percent of its annual Earnings Before
Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA).
said it would continue paying affected workers their regular
base pay for up to 90 days.
rival MGM Mirage said its Beau
Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., saw significant
damage, and the company was trying to connect to the property's
Baldwin, president and chief executive of Mirage Resorts,
was assembling a team to assess the damage at Beau Rivage,
but was awaiting clearance from emergency authorities,
the company said.
Could Consider Land-Based Casinos
As reported by the Associated Press
Katrina's devastation of the Gulf Coast gambling industry
could sway Mississippi legislators to consider allowing
land-based casinos and scrap the law that placed them
on the water in vulnerable spots.
"I think that will be a public policy question that
will be on the minds of every legislator when they come
in for the next session," said Larry Gregory, the
Mississippi Gaming Commission's executive director. "That
discussion will be the No. 1 issue in this legislative
cycle. This will definitely put the fire under their feet."
More than half of the 13 casinos in Biloxi, Gulfport and
Bay St. Louis were destroyed by the hurricane that roared
in off the ocean, Gregory said Wednesday.
Mississippi requires casinos to float, either along the
Gulf Coast or on the Mississippi River. A state law that
took effect earlier this year allows the floating casinos
to build permanent pilings to stabilize the barges.
It's not clear if that reinforcement would have been enough
to save the casinos in a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. None
of the casinos had a chance to construct pilings.
Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said the law should be
rewritten to allow land-based casinos, but only in areas
that had gambling barges before.
think if they had been on land, it still would have been
disastrous, but not nearly as much," said Holland
, a member of the Gaming Committee in the Mississippi
lawmakers, particularly religious conservatives, have
opposed land-based casinos along the coast or the Mississippi
River because they fear other, inland counties would push
for gambling house, too.
After the hurricane, "I think what you're going to
see, politically, is a different mind-set on everything,"
winds and a massive storm surge laid waste to the region,
tossing some of the barges on which the casinos rested
like toy boats and crippling the state's $2.7 billion
Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment Inc. likely lost
two casinos in the powerful hurricane: the Grand Casinos
in Biloxi and Gulfport. The
Beau Rivage sustained "significant damage, "
as did Biloxi's Casino
Magic, which is owned by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.
of Las Vegas.
Magic Bay St. Louis and Boomtown
Biloxi Casino in Biloxi were severely damaged, according
to owner Penn National Gaming Inc. Television footage
showed the Copa Casino in Gulfport and the Hard Rock casino
in Biloxi appeared to have extensive damage.
Bay Casino in Biloxi was a total loss, said Bernie
Burkholder, president and chief executive.
Gary Loveman, Harrah's chairman and chief executive, said
putting casinos on boats didn't make any sense. It's been
a running debate since the state legalized floating casinos
in 1990 and the first one opened in 1992.
just never understood that," Loveman said. "It's
not simply an inconvenience. ... it's a public safety
who runs the world's largest gambling company, said Harrah's
would rebuild on the Gulf Coast but would take a hard
look at putting a casino on a barge again.
Morgan gambling analyst Harry Curtis wrote in an investor's
note that the state would benefit from land-based casinos.
"In the long run, we think this legislation would
be good for the state's tourism industry," because
it could encourage greater investment and greater amenities,"
Curtis said. He cautioned that "investment would
not occur unless casinos could build facilities to withstand
Category 5 hurricanes."
to Help: Organizations Involved in Hurricane Katrina Relief
Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or www.redcross.org
for Good www.networkforgood.org
Tribune Foundation Hurricane Katrina Relief Campaign:
Relief & Development: 1-800-334-7626 or www.er-d.org/
Methodist Committee on Relief: 1-800-554-8583 or gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/hurricanes/2005
Army: 1-800-SAL-ARMY or www.salvationarmyusa.org
Charities: 1-800-919-9338 or www.catholiccharitiesusa.org
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: www.nvoad.org
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: www.la-spca.org