Gaming Report Offers Options - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/06/05

Gaming Report Offers Options

The next wave of casino dealers has a lot on the line. They're betting their futures on how casinos ride out tomorrow's hurricanes.

Ricky Richard runs the Crescent School of Gaming.

"I think it's the responsibility for the people in control to take action and find a solution and not wait until something happens," Richard said.

He knows what could happen to his students if an Ivan slammed into south Mississippi.

"It would hurt. It would really hurt," he said.

Casino jobs were a big consideration in the final report just released by an ad hoc gaming committee. The Secretary of State organized the committee to evaluate ways the state and its casinos could protect jobs, and minimize the risks to properties when hurricanes come ashore.

Here's what an analyst from Gulf Coast Community College wrote in the report. If casinos stayed right where they are, a category three hurricane could wipe out 17% of the area's casino jobs -- almost 3,000 workers.

If casinos were built in coffer cells -- or manmade ponds -- job losses would drop to 5% or 830 positions.

The analyst determined there would be no jobs lost in a category three storm if casinos sat on pilings hammered into the water, or they operated on land.

Here's more from the ad hoc gaming report. In terms of tax dollars, the state could take a $27 million hit if a category three hurricane shut down casinos for up to 10 weeks.

Analysts determined the tax impact would be a lot less significant if the state let casinos operate in a coffer cell, on pilings, or on land.

Richard said that information should be a wake up call to lawmakers who count on casinos to boost state employment opportunities and for general fund revenue.

"It's very important because once again, the committee is being proactive and looking for solutions," the gaming school operator said. "And I think that's essential."

The committee sent its casino report to lawmakers. Nobody's betting on what they do with it.

by Brad Kessie

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