Casino workers say BP oil claims process is a bad deal

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They carried signs, and waved at passing cars, begging for support from the motoring public.  A honk here and there brought recognition to their cause.

They all felt they've been dealt a losing hand by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.  Only a handful of casino workers have received compensation for oil spill losses.

Krista Mastroianni is a dealer.  Her losses weren't that great, but the drop in income still stings.

"When I broke the math down, it was probably $2,500 that I've lost in this, because of the tourism and because people haven't come to the casinos." Mastroianni said.  "People were afraid to come to the casinos."

Some of the casino workers WLOX talked to said the fact that casino revenues have actually increased quite a bit in the past few months on the Mississippi gulf coast has hurt their case.  But they still said they've been hurt.

One of those workers is Justin Lyons, who has seen his pay go down by more than $2,000.

"Yeah, the casino revenue is up, but that doesn't affect our tips." Lyons said.  "We still make tips and a lot of people didn't come down, our regular people didn't come down.  We had people from BP, they don't know about tipping."

The organizer of this protest rally is Amy Sullivan.  She knows time is running out and this gamble to get compensated may not pay off.

"It's very frustrating.  We put a lot of time into all the protesting and just the e-mails and stuff," Sullivan said.  "It's hard. It's hard, especially when they got our hopes up at the beginning."

And those hopes have all but disappeared for the workers, who are now left hoping for a little bit of gamblers luck to help turn things around.

Even though the workers vow to continue their efforts to be compensated for lost wages and tips, many feel they are fighting a losing battle.

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