Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the gambling communities of Biloxi and Gulfport are quietly making a comeback after the ravishing damages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During this natural disaster, much of the region was destroyed, causing billions and billions of dollars in damaged properties. In addition, the lives of residents were forever altered as they saw their homes and businesses torn apart from the storm. However, the spirit of community in Biloxi and Gulfport is strong, and the region is working on making the area better than ever.
Immediately following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, a number of legislative bills were passed to make rebuilding of the region much easier. One such act was the creation of the GO Zone, or Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone. This act was a way of attractive new investor to the region by providing tax discounts as well as other programs that would bring money to the area while it was in need. The program was a resounding success and both Biloxi and Gulfport have been able to bounce back relatively quickly from the Hurricane’s aftermath.
While efforts at reconstruction are still happening, much of the region has been put back together as businesses south of highway 90 are beginning to reopen and tourists continue to visit the cities. Another piece of legislation that improved the conditions of the area was a law that allowed casinos to rebuild their properties further inland. This decision meant that the physical building can have stronger support and will be more prepared if another powerful hurricane comes to the Gulf Coats. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, casinos were required to technically be off-shore. Due to this law, these casinos did not have the necessary infrastructure to weather such a storm. Now they are prepared, making the entire region stronger.
The current economic crisis that has hit much of the country has somehow spared the Gulf Coast region. Gambling revenues have continued to remain constant while revenues in other gambling cities have been on a sharp decline. Although there was a decrease from 2007 to 2008, it was only a small decrease and experts believe that the casinos would have had an increase had there not been the possibility of additional hurricanes making landfall in the area.
With the crisis affecting the country, more people are looking to save money on vacations and are thus coming to the Gulf Coast instead of Las Vegas and Atlantic City for gambling vacations. It is these new and additional tourists that are managing to keep the city afloat. The construction in some areas has slowed down, but new permits are still being issued with almost $200 million in contracts being given in 2008. This development is a strong sign that the Gulf Coast economies will continue to grow for many years to come. Gulfport and Biloxi continue to be two shining ships in a sea of troubles. Investors looking for new opportunities would be wise to look into the possibility of expanding into this exciting region.