New York Times reports on Gulf Coast “casino boom”

The New York Times, in a front-page story today, took note of the record revenue being posted by Gulf Coast casinos over the past several months.

In a story datelined Biloxi and headlined “Casinos boom in Katrina’s wake as cash pours in,” writer Gary Rivlin noted that the area has 40 percent fewer hotel rooms and only two-thirds as many slot machines as it did before Hurricane Katrina, “yet business in the gambling halls of Biloxi has reached all-time highs in recent months.”

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who spoke with the reporter during his visit to Biloxi, said he was pleased with the story, but also noted some could draw incorrect conclusions from it.

“Readers who conclude that the increased revenue is coming from locals would be incorrect, at least in Biloxi,” Holloway said. “You should consider that Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport has gone from being served by four airlines before Katrina to six airlines today, and the airport is doing 110 percent more business than it was doing before the storm. And although the number of hotel rooms is down in the Biloxi area, those rooms are staying packed.”

To read the entire Times story, click here.

More online

Previous Times story: Gary Rivlin, the author of today’s Times story, was also in Biloxi in December 2005, four months after Katrina, when he filed a story that noted the casinos would help fund the city’s recovery. To read that story, click here.

Revenue, Part I: To see the gaming revenue figures on a calendar month for Biloxi casinos, click here.

Revenue, Part 2: The city’s Finance Department has a breakdown on how gaming revenue is divvied up between the state, county, city and local schools. (The monthly figure, incidentally, does not match the city’s calendar month report since the revenue reporting and revenue disbursements are made on different cycles.) To see the breakdown of revenue, click here.