Gulf Coast Casinos Still Struggling to Purchase Crab Legs at Reasonable Costs

Posted on: August 4, 2021, 12:06h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2021, 05:40h.

Gulf Coast casinos in Mississippi, famed for their all-you-can-eat buffets featuring king and snow crab legs, remain struggling to source such items.

Gulf Coast casinos Biloxi crab legs
Piles of crabs are seen at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in January of 2020 prior to COVID-19. Many seafood items continue to be extraordinarily expensive, which has prompted changes on many buffets at Gulf Coast casinos. (Image: Scarlet Pearl)

Citing labor shortages, transportation troubles, high demand, and rising prices, casinos in Biloxi, Gulfport, D’Iberville, and Bay St. Louis have largely done away with crab legs on their casino buffets. 

Our buffet is not serving any king and snow crab,” Kristian Wade, executive chef at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, told SeafoodSource, a seafood industry news site. “We are having trouble getting everything from calamari to West Coast oysters,” 

“Same with scallops and mussels. We are not able to get much of anything right now,” Wade added.

Seafood prices have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic, and there’s seemingly no timetable as to when more reasonable costs might return.

“The seafood industry is experiencing a backlog at US ports, as well as navigating a major labor shortage, transportation price hikes, and increased costs of seafood, packaging, and other supplies that are complicating their operations,” Melaina Lewis, director of communications of the National Fisheries Institute, told NBC’s TODAY. “This all contributes to higher prices and serious delays in bringing seafood from bait to plate.”

Passing Costs to Customers

There are 12 Gulf Coast casinos. But only three are presently offering AYCE crab legs — Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel, Silver Slipper Casino, and Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast. 

The shortage of crab legs is nothing new. reported in April that buffets were largely free of AYCE crabs. 

At that time, Treasure Bay was one of the casinos that continued to offer the much-sought-after buffet staple at a price of $31.99. Fast-forward less than four months, and that price has jumped to $42.99.

The Silver Slipper was another Gulf Coast casino that has continued to offer AYCE crab legs. But like Treasure Bay, its buffet price with crab legs has surged from $34.98 in April, to $49.95 today ($44.95 Monday through Thursday). 

Hollywood’s endless crab legs buffet runs $44.95, but is only available Friday through Sunday.

Golden Nugget gave buffet diners in April the option to add on 1.5 pounds of crab legs for $14.99 to their $19.99 general buffet dinner price. But the Nugget no longer has the crab legs option.

Gaming Rebound

Despite not offering the bounty of crab legs Gulf Coast casinos are known for, business is strong on the gaming floors. 

January through June, Mississippi’s casinos are on pace to better their 2019 gross gaming revenue (GGR). That year, the state’s 26 commercial casinos collectively won $2.2 billion from gamblers. Through six months in 2021, the properties have reported GGR of $1.369 billion. 

At the current rate, Mississippi’s gaming industry is on track to win around $2.74 billion this year.