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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Midwestern, Southern casinos close due to flooding

9 May 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Rising Mississippi River flood waters shuttered casino operations in several Southern and Midwestern states this week, including properties operated by Nevada gaming companies.

Additional closures are on the horizon as flooding by the Mississippi River and its tributaries threaten communities in coming weeks. The flooding already has broken high-water records that have stood since the 1930s.

In Tunica, Miss., all nine casinos in the market roughly 40 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., closed last week. Tunica County on Tuesday said the casinos are to be closed for at least three to six weeks.

Tunica's gaming market is valued at about $10 million a month, but the closures also harm non-gaming revenues from roughly 6,000 hotel rooms and restaurants.

"It just has a major impact when you count on gaming," Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said last week at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss.

Boyd Gaming Corp., which operates Sam's Town Tunica Hotel & Gambling Hall, is offering to move hotel guests with reservations through May 27 to other company properties in the South. Boyd spokesman David Strow said Friday the company is guaranteeing nearly 900 workers pay through May 15.

Caesars Entertainment has three casinos that have closed in Tunica -- Horseshoe Casino & Hotel - Tunica, Tunica Roadhouse Casino and Hotel and Harrah's Casino Tunica. The company also has closed the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino Hotel and Harrah's Metropolis Casino in Illinois because of flooding.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Caesars said the closed properties accounted for 9.4 percent of net revenues in 2010.

"Based on their locations and other factors, certain of these properties may remain closed longer than others," Caesars said in the filing. The company said flood and loss-of-earnings insurance would cover most losses.

Las Vegas-based Tropicana Entertainment Inc. closed its Lighthouse Point Casino and Bayou Caddy's Jubilee Casino, both in Greenville, Miss.

"The safety of our employees and guests are of the utmost importance to us so we are taking proactive steps to ensure their safety," Tropicana Interim Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ninivaggi said in a statement.

Isle of Capri Casinos closed its properties in Caruthersville, Mo., and Lula, Miss., last week, and is planning to close its casino in Natchez, Miss., on Sunday. Isle CEO Virginia McDowell said the company anticipates that it may have to close its casino in Vicksburg, Miss.

"We are continually monitoring conditions there," McDowell said. We have been in contact with our insurance carriers regarding property and business-interruption claims."

Also in Vicksburg, Ameristar Casino Hotel - Vicksburg could close by next week, well in advance of when the Mississippi River is expected to crest. The company said Friday that steps had been undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the casino from flood damage.

"We are very pleased the risk assessment has been reduced such that the disruption to our operations, team members and guests at Ameristar Vicksburg is expected to be limited," Ameristar CEO Gordon Kanofsky said.
Midwestern, Southern casinos close due to flooding is republished from