Ad Hoc Committee Finishes Its Casino Study - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/17/04

Ad Hoc Committee Finishes Its Casino Study

The day's calm waters made you forget how close Mississippi casinos came to a catastrophic disaster when Hurricane Ivan churned in the Gulf. DMR Director Dr. Bill Walker got a first hand look at Ivan's power when he toured Pensacola. "It was very clear that if that storm had come ashore in Biloxi, MS, the damage to the economy of the state would have been huge," he said.

Dr. Walker chaired a committee that was set up to find new ways to insulate casinos from storms. "We're hoping that this report will give present day and future gaming folks something to consider that they may want to do things a little differently then they're doing today to protect themselves," the DMR director said.

When the final draft of that report comes out next week, it will give the casinos three basic development options. With legislative approval, they could float in manmade ponds protected by what are called coffer cells. The casinos could sit on pilings hammered into the water. Or, they could be built on land adjacent to approved waters. That option doesn't seem very likely.

And it doesn't interest Marlin Torguson. "We're off the beach a little ways," the original Casino Magic developer said. Torguson was the visionary who turned small riverboats into large buildings on water. Now, he's proposing a resort on a bayou behind Caillavet Street. Torguson doesn't think the findings in the committee report will alter his design. "We hope when we get done building that, we're going to be as safe as anybody can possibly be for the hurricane threat," he said after the final committee meeting.

In September, the hurricane threat nearly became a reality. That's why the state and its casinos are trying to come up with new prevention approaches now, while the water is still calm.

The final committee report will be sent to Mississppi lawmakers. Nobody knows if they'll adopt any of the report's findings.

by Brad Kessie

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