Vendors Excited About Post Katrina Casino Resurgence

Treasure Bay has spent $60 million rebuilding what the hurricane destroyed. The latest addition unveiled Monday gives this complex more casino space, and room for a new buffet.

As an industry, the casino have reinvested close to $1.5 billion dollars to repair their properties, and reinvigorate the economy. Clell Rosetti is sure thankful for that.

"If the casinos wouldn't have come back, we would have been dead in the water, you know, dead in the water," he admitted.

On August 28, 2005 Rosetti had a six month old warehouse on Caillavet Street with enough freezer space to serve a growing casino industry. But a day later, just when the Rosetti family business seemed to be on such a high, the casinos, and his seafood dealership got walloped by Katrina.

"After the storm, we just shook our heads and said what do we do now," he remembered.

Rosetti's son Todd will never forget the negative thoughts that kept running through his head after he saw what the hurricane did to Biloxi.

"Who do you sell to," he kept wondering. "You had no customers to sell to. Your customer base was gone."

Now fast forward 22 months. Eleven casinos have re-emerged on the coast skyline. And they've spent more than a billion dollars to get back in business.

Beau Rivage put $550 million into its resort. The Isle of Capri invested $230 million. Island View paid a similar sum to buy and redo the old Grand Gulfport property. Hard Rock came up with $150 million to rebuild a resort that was just two days away from opening. Boomtown spent $72 million to redo its casino barge. The Palace made an initial $25 million investment. Hollywood pumped $100 million into its Bay St. Louis casino. And Silver Slipper paid $85 million to build an on shore property in Hancock County.

The trickle down impact of that recovery spending has benefited every casino vendor. Now, instead of worrying about what to do with an empty warehouse, Clell Rosetti watches delivery trucks pull in and out of his warehouse several times a day.

"We regrouped," he said. "We said we've got to go forward. And we made a stab at it. And it's been successful."

James Larkin appreciates what the Rosetti family went through.

"We'd definitely have an empty building if there weren't any casinos around," the Crescent School of Gaming manager said.

However, the casinos came back. So the dealer training school temporarily moved into a Biloxi office building, and cashed in on the industry's resurgence.

"I'm definitely impressed with the recovery. And I think it was a good move to work with the casinos first, get that industry rolling, get people back to work," Larkin thought. "More money for the economy, more tax base, people can rebuild their homes, get back to a normal life."