View Ridge last fall, exactly a year after Hurricane Katrina caused waste in the Gulf’s casino industry.

Gregory didn’t think the Las Vegas-based casino giant could repair Biloxi’s biggest gaming facility in such a short time. The 1,740-room View Lvig. resumed a $550 million repair after a brief ceremony on Aug. 29 honoring the 238 Mississippi residents who died when a Category 4 storm hit Biloxi and the surrounding area.

More than 3,800 MGM Mirage employees who worked at casinos last year, or about 60 percent, will go back to their jobs after a year of turmoil and reconstruction, trying to bring some normalcy back to the Gulf Coast.

For Gregory, the state’s gaming regulator since December 2001, the View Levi’s is more than a 32-story hotel casino that opened in 1999. The View Levi’s is a symbol of the state’s blossoming future and a sign that the country, which was the third-largest producer of games in the U.S., has entered a path of recovery.

“[Boriba] was our state’s first real destination resort,” Gregory said. “It’s important, and the reopening shows how truly the industry is getting back on its feet.”

Gregory made his way to the Gulf from his office in Jackson the day after the storm, seeing firsthand the anger of 135 mph Katrina winds and a storm surge estimated at 30 feet. It was 12 operating casinos and the 13th casino that was scheduled to open within days that were either destroyed or badly damaged.

Thousands of residences and businesses in Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis areas have been demolished and infrastructure in the area has been destroyed for months.

Floating game barges that came off a mooring a year ago and floated across Mississippi’s Highway 90 took the jobs of 17,000 casino workers and $1.2 billion in annual gaming income. Between the wreckage and the lost income, about $500,000 in state and local government revenues per day were lost from state and local budgets.

Speaking at the annual Global Game Fair in Las Vegas just days after the hurricane, U.S. Game Association President Frank Fahrenkoff said Mississippi’s devastation was the single biggest disaster for the casino industry. In the South, these were dark days. But Gregory was realistic and optimistic.

“We flew down there and I couldn’t believe the damage,” Gregory recalled. “I didn’t think anything was going to happen anytime soon, but this past year has been a huge turnaround.”

Mississippi lawmakers, led by Gov. Haley Barber, passed a bill in October that would allow casinos to rebuild facilities in waters 800 feet from the Gulf of Mexico.

By the end of December, Las Vegas-owned three Biloxi casinos – Imperial Place, Palace, and Capricorn – had reopened. Capricorn was in such good shape that operators expanded the temporary casinos this spring to make room for 500 slot machines.

In June, Boomtown and Treasure Bay opened a small temporary land casino in Biloxi. Harra’s Entertainment reopened Grand Casino Biloxi at a temporary track and field facility with 800 slot machines, 28 table games and 500 rooms. The reopening of the bogies takes the Gulf Coast to another level.

MGM Mirage has redesigned its 85,000-square-foot gaming barge, which was docked in the Gulf of Mexico during the storm, to include 93 table games and 2,100 slot machines. New restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues have been added.

“We were given the rare opportunity to do it all over again and we set out to a much bigger vision,” said George Kokis, the president of Bobbiage. “When we reopen, we intend to continue Bobbiage’s legacy as a strong community leader.”

While some may see it as a celebration of the re-emergence of View Ridge, Gregory said that all casino operations have been quiet. On Tuesday, a somber mood of memory will be combined with the joy of having more than 3,800 Mississippi residents returning to their jobs.

“All of our reopenings have been symbols of hope and optimism,” Gregory said. “The soul of the coast is gone, but reconstruction efforts bring back the soul of the coast little by little.”

Mr. Gregory said the reopening will continue through September. On Thursday, Penn National Gaming reopened its former casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, renovated its property and rebranded it as a Hollywood casino. He mentioned at least four new casino projects planned for the area.

“I feel like a new potential casino project on the Gulf Coast crosses my desk every day,” he said. Games revenue also rose as casinos reopened. In July, five casinos operating on the Gulf Coast reported $74.4 million in revenue, down 26.9% from the $101.7 million reported by 12 casinos the previous year.

Game analysts said Gulf Coast’s results were impressive given the reduced capacity. Gregory said his greatest fear never came true. It was tourists, not locals, who revisited the casinos. Residents did not spend their money at game tables, and construction workers did not supply salaries to slot machines instead of re-creating jobs.

“I can tell you I was worried about who was coming to the casino,” Gregory said. “We didn’t want the locals to do the testing.” “We wanted the tourists, and they’re back. We’re getting visitors from Alabama, West Florida, and even Louisiana.”

Tourism will be greatly helped if a 27-mile section of Highway 90 between Bay St. Louis and Biloxi is repaired. Two bridges connecting the Korean Peninsula to the rest of the coastal communities will be partially opened next year.

Wayne Brown, the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Southern District Commissioner, said it would cost nearly $600 million to rebuild the bridges, which are being financed through federal tax dollars. He said that when they are repaired, the entire Highway 90 that runs through the Casino District will be renovated. “The highway is truly a coastal lifeline,” Brown said. “And the good people of the United States are making the repairs possible.”슬롯게임

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