Treasure Bay Casino is back on its feet 10 months after Hurricane Katrina

10 months after the Hurricane Katrina's 145mph winds and 28-foot storm surge, as much of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi lay in smithereens, Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel in Bilox is back in business. Eighty-one slot machines and a restaurant that features Asian Cajun crawfish as its signature dish attracted a steady stream of customers. Wednesday is their first day to be open again.

Hurricane Katrina damaged the area killing 87 people. Katrina devastated hotels, casinos, restaurants and tourist attractions slumped up and down U.S. 90, also known as Beach Boulevard.

Susan Varnes, chief operating officer at Treasure Bay said, "We've had a lot of regular customers and former employees stop by." Although she did not have the exact number of patrons who visited the casino, she calculated more. The slot machines are located across U.S. 90 in the hotel building. Customers enter through an air-conditioned construction tunnel that employees have decorated with their handprints, Varnes said.

The outlook is significantly brighter along this stretch of the Mississippi coast, despite the difficult work that lies ahead. Formerly housed comfortably in a 4,000-square foot office, Richer and his staffs are working out of a double-wide trailer for now.

Apart from the personal rebuilding that Gulf Coast residents must accomplish, much of Harrison County itself - the region encompassing Gulfport and Biloxi - is endeavoring to rebuild as a destination for leisure and business travel.

The casino and restaurant named The Den opened at 5p.m. Wednesday. The reopening put 200 employees back to work. The Den consists of a bar with flat screen television and 48 restaurant seats is fully decorated and very intimate. They were provided with parking in the hotel parking lot and much more on the south side of Highway 90 where parking was previously located for the old casino vessel running 24 hours a day and can drop customers at the front door of their home.

Treasure Bay's history as an established Gulf Casino merited giving the go-ahead for it. By the end of October, Treasure Bay plans to add additional slots and open hotel room.

Other casino resorts are coming back to life, including Harrah's Biloxi Grand Casino, the 1,740-room Beau Rivage Resort & Casino by August 29, 2006, the Treasure Bay Condo Resort promises to reopen by September, the Boomtown Casino by the end of this year will reopen and the Copa Casino in Gulfport will reopen its casino in the former Oasis Hotel while the Copa's barge undergoes repairs at a shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.


Monday, 24. 2006
Caroline Mitchell