Gambling On Gulf Coast

Despite the massive damage done to the Gulf Coast and its casino district by Hurricane Katrina, at least two companies aren’t giving up on gaming. MGM Mirage announced it would rebuild its upscale Beau Rivage resort, while Pinnacle Entertainment, with losses at more than $100 million in the region, broke ground on a new casino.

MGM Mirage also said it would continue to pay its 3,400 Beau Rivage employees for at least the next 90 days, according to Reuters. Harrah’s Entertainment will reportedly do the same for employees of Grand Casino Biloxi and Grand Casino Tunica Events Ctr. Gulfport.

Other casinos along the Gulf of Mexico were assessing their post-Katrina future, and it appears most of their owners think it looks pretty bright.

Imperial Palace employees have been asked to return to work, according to The Sun-Herald of Jackson, Miss., which reports the hotel has been rented to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Power and others.

The casino hopes to be back in operation within three to four months, according to the paper. Likewise, Isle of Capri casino in Biloxi, Miss., has indicated plans to rebuild.

Hard Rock International and Premier Entertainment, which own casino properties in Biloxi, also plan to rebuild the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino property after it takes care of its employees.

“Right now, our primary concern is for the safety and well being of our employees and neighbors on the Gulf Coast,” Joe Billhimer, president of the casino, told the Sun-Herald. “We are committed to the region and encourage our staff to contact us for more information.”