CASINO CLOSURE ORDER ISSUED - Friday 12th of August 2005

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has issued an order that Coast casinos close to the public at 2 a.m. Sunday.

“I just notified my staff to notify the casinos to begin closing, starting at 2 a.m.,? Larry Gregory, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission said at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. “I want all patrons off the casino floors. Only essential personnel will be allowed after that point.?

The casinos have until noon Sunday to complete the paperwork, accounting, security and safety steps associated with the closure of the gambling barges.

The Gaming Commission ordered the casinos closed before the Harrison County Board of Supervisors issued an evacuation order.

In July when Hurricane Dennis was churning in the Gulf, the Gaming Commission did not close any casinos until after the Harrison Supervisors issued a mandatory evacuation order. Casino Magic Bay St. Louis in Hancock County remained open because the Gaming Commission did not make the order Coast-wide.

As it turned out, the Mississippi Coast was relatively untouched by Hurricane Dennis. Gross gambling revenue for July was down $11.4 million from July 2004. The closure occurred on the weekend after the Independence Day holiday.

Gaming Commissioon Chairman Jerry St. Pe said he did not think the forecasts from that hurricane necessitated a closure.

“Did the Gaming Commission last time view the forecasts as requiring the commission to close down the casinos?? St. Pe said. “The answer is no. We didnt make the decision. Once the civil defence authorities called for an evacuation, then it was a moot conversation.?

The Gaming Commission has since contracted with Al Archer, a meteorologist, to provide forecast information. St. Pe, the former head of shipbuilding operations Northrop Grumman, suggested the arrangement because Archer provided the same service to that industry.

“Hes giving us a lot more focus in terms of narrowing this down a little bit,? St. Pe said. “But I dont think theres a situation in which an independent meteorologist under contract is going to disagree largely with the National Weather Service. You get what I would describe as a little more focus.?

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