Mississippi Casino Owners Make Storm Plans

June 6, 2007

Casino owners in South Mississippi were scheduled to meet Monday with the state Gaming Commission, local government officials and emergency personnel to ensure plans are in place if a hurricane targets the Gulf Coast.

The annual meeting was to be held at the IP Casino.

“We think we’re well-prepared,” said Larry Gregory, executive director of the MGC.

Before Hurricane Katrina, casinos closed 24 hours in advance of the storm hitting the shore. Now casinos could be closing sooner than that with employees and others still not in permanent housing, Gregory said. Employees will need time to secure their homes and evacuate.

“We’re trying to shoot for a window of 10 to 12 hours before that evacuation order is going to come out,” said Gaming Commission Liaison Dave Kingman.

One of the first operating policies Island View Casino Resort put on paper was a hurricane closing and evacuation plan, said CEO Lindsey Inman. One of the best procedures, Inman said, was allowing the casinos to move onshore.

Kingman warns that “just because they’re onshore doesn’t automatically reduce the potential for damage.”

There has never been a casualty at the casinos during an evacuation, a record the commission hopes to keep.

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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