Flood Waters Soak Casinos on Mississippi Gulf Coast During Hurricane Zeta

Posted on: October 29, 2020, 03:19h. 

Last updated on: July 7, 2021, 02:29h.

Casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were damaged in the strong wind and flood waters that accompanied Hurricane Zeta, as the fast-moving storm ripped through the state on Wednesday.

Golden Nugget Biloxi
The parking garage at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, seen here, was swamped with water in Hurricane Zeta’s wake on Wednesday. Severe weather this year has had an economic impact on Gulf Coast casinos. (Image: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

In Biloxi, the parking garages at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino were flooded in a storm surge that swamped the area, according to NBC News. Videos posted on social media sites showed wind damage at both properties.

Mississippi is home to 26 commercial casinos. Twelve of those are along the Gulf Coast. Eight are in the Biloxi area. Some casinos along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, including the Golden Nugget, were open again by Thursday, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.  Other resorts planned to reopen by this weekend. The Hard Rock had not announced by Thursday when it planned to reopen.

Zeta’s Fury

Hurricane Zeta roared ashore from the Gulf of Mexico about 4:30 pm Wednesday near Cocodrie, a Louisiana coastal village south of New Orleans. The Category 2 storm, with winds topping 100 mph, quickly tore through the Crescent City before veering eastward into Mississippi. From there, its remnants plowed through North Georgia on the way to the Mid-Atlantic states.    

At least five deaths in the region have been attributed to Hurricane Zeta. More than two million homes and businesses from southeastern Louisiana through the Atlanta area were without power by Thursday evening.

In New Orleans, some casinos were closed by early Wednesday as Hurricane Zeta zeroed in on the storm-weary state. Zeta is the fifth hurricane or tropical storm to strike Louisiana this hurricane season.

Two major hurricanes, Laura and Delta, recently clobbered the Lake Charles area, blowing ashore only six weeks apart. The four hotel-casinos in southwestern Louisiana were damaged in the powerful storms. Only one casino, the Isle of Capri in Lake Charles, remained closed on Thursday, according to Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police.

Fontenot told Casino.org that none of the casinos in the New Orleans area had reported any damage by late Thursday. However, of those that closed early as a precautionary measure, Fair Grounds Race Course and free slots had not reopened by Thursday, he said.

Casinos Take Economic Hit

The record number of storms strafing the Gulf Coast this hurricane season have taken an economic toll on the casino industry.

Josh Hirsberg, Boyd Gaming’s chief financial officer, said the storms have had an impact of up to $5 million on the Nevada-based company. Boyd Gaming has five properties in Louisiana and two in Mississippi.

Because of severe weather and the coronavirus pandemic, casinos in the New Orleans area also have suffered economically. Harrah’s New Orleans has reported a multimillion dollar loss in gambling revenue from March to August this year compared to the same period last year. It is the only land-based casino in the state.

Zeta is the 27th hurricane or tropical storm this Atlantic hurricane season, one short of the record. The most storms prior to that were the 28 recorded in 2005. That number included 15 hurricanes.

During 2005, Hurricane Katrina pummeled Louisiana and Mississippi, killing 1,833 people in the region. The hurricane also tore barge casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast away from their moorings and tossed them ashore.