Whilst the world watches in horror as desperate people try to escape the pestilent floodwaters of New Orleans and bodies remain uncollected along the Mississippi coast, the analysts are number crunching. From the moment the casino barges were ordered closed last Sunday the daily income loss to operators and state alike was being assessed, but no one anticipated the literally awful swathe of destruction that Katrina would unleash on the lives and properties along its path.
Gaming companies were quick to come up with contingency plans for their workers but long-term the economic devastation in the region will be hard to overcome. The rush to quantify loss levels to gaming businesses would seem at best unfeeling and at worst cynical in the face of such human suffering. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is reportedly analyzing statistics on cancelled flights from the Gulf Coast to see the possible affect the disaster could have on its tourism, although it is hard to imagine that cancelled flights are high priority to those dealing with the aftermath of Katrina. The LVCVA is also getting calls from organizations previously booked for conventions in New Orleans that want to switch to Las Vegas, so maybe that city will see an increase in visitors. For much of America, it seems, it's business as usual.
It is to be hoped that the necessary assistance will finally arrive in beleaguered New Orleans and that the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi will swiftly receive the economic aid needed to rebuild the lives of its citizens. Within the philosophy of responsible gambling, the gaming industry has a client in problems and should do its utmost to deal with those problems and bring back a semblance of normality as quickly as possible to the previously thriving vacation destinations. It may look an impossible task at present to rebuild the casinos but, as a member of the Mississippi Gaming Commission has already said, "We [the state] can't do without them." (E-09.02.05)
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