Hurricane Laura Causes Casinos To Close As Storm Barrels Toward Louisiana-Texas Border

Posted on: August 26, 2020, 01:17h. 

Last updated on: August 27, 2020, 01:35h.

Casinos and racetracks in Louisiana began closing this week as a massive hurricane churning up the Gulf of Mexico targeted the Bayou State’s coastline.

Louisiana Casinos Close For Hurricane Laura
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) warned residents about Hurricane Laura’s potentially damaging impact. Casinos in Louisiana began closing under threat of severe weather. (Image: The Advocate)

The four casinos in the Lake Charles area — the Golden Nugget, L’Auberge, Isle of Capri, and Delta Downs — were closed by early Wednesday, Aug. 26, according to Major Chuck McNeal, command inspector for the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division.

McNeal told Casino.org that Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, a racetrack and casino near Shreveport in northwest Louisiana, also was closed early Aug. 26 under threat of severe weather.

Area Under Alert

These temporary closings were prompted by the expected overnight arrival at the Louisiana-Texas border of Hurricane Laura, a storm anticipated to make landfall possibly as a Category 4 hurricane. Hurricanes of that status have sustained winds of at least 130 mph.

Casinos and other businesses often are hurt economically during peak hurricane season in the late summer and fall. The impact on people also can be devastating.

Lake Charles, only about 40 miles from the Gulf Coast, could face severe wind damage and flooding.

This is going to be a very, very tough storm,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Aug. 26 on The Weather Channel.

The governor recommended residents in the area evacuate, saying the storm surge could reach 20 feet there. Storm surges have the potential to bring deadly flooding.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said in an email to Casino.org that the area is under a dusk-to-dawn curfew. In Louisiana, counties are referred to as parishes. Lake Charles, located 32 miles from the Texas border, is in Calcasieu Parish.

Some people in the region with COVID-19 are being housed in hotels, said Casey Tingle, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Impact on New Orleans

Hurricane Laura is expected to strike the Louisiana-Texas border at about 2 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, according to WDSU-TV in New Orleans.

New Orleans is 205 miles east of Lake Charles, but could face heavy winds and storm surges of more than two feet, The Weather Channel reported. Parts of the New Orleans area are 9.84 feet below sea level.

However, many forecasts indicated the worst of the storm would slam into the coast west of the Crescent City.

That being the case, the only casino in the New Orleans area that had closed earlier in the week, the Boomtown Casino, was open again by Aug. 26, the gaming enforcement inspector told Casino.org.

The Boomtown Casino is in Harvey, Louisiana, south of downtown New Orleans, on the opposite side of the Mississippi River.

The security supervisor at Boomtown told Casino.org earlier this week that the property had closed temporarily because of its location near a canal. The canal poses a flood threat.

Hurricane Laura’s Path

After pummeling the coastline, Hurricane Laura is projected to power through the inland areas up to Shreveport in the northwestern part of Louisiana.

From there, it is expected to rip through central Arkansas before taking a sharp right turn north of Memphis, Tennessee.

Hurricane Laura is the second major storm to hit the Gulf Coast this week.

Tropical Storm Marco, with winds up to 40 mph, made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge on Aug. 24 at about 6 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm brought heavy rainfall but did not cause significant damage expected from Hurricane Laura.

In Mississippi, which borders Louisiana east of the hurricane’s anticipated path, the state Gaming Commission is discouraging patrons and employees from showing up at the state’s 26 resorts until travel conditions are safe.

“I am asking that you take precautionary measures to protect the safety of your employees and guests,” Executive Director Allen Godfrey said in an email to the casinos.