Casinos in Gulf Coast states began closing this weekend as powerful Hurricane Ida barreled toward the Louisiana shoreline. The hurricane is expected to slam into Louisiana on Sunday, 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina blasted the state.
In Louisiana, all three Baton Rouge riverboat casinos were closing on Saturday, according to Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police. These are the Belle of Baton Rouge, the Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, and L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.
In the New Orleans area, the Treasure Chest Casino and the Boomtown Casino and Hotel also were closing on Saturday, Fontenot told Casino.org.
The Treasure Chest is at Lake Pontchartrain in Kenner, northwest of downtown New Orleans. Boomtown is in Harvey, south of downtown New Orleans on the opposite side of the Mississippi River.
The Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans also was closing on Saturday, Fontenot said. The Amelia Belle riverboat casino southwest of New Orleans near Morgan City closed on Friday.
Harrah’s New Orleans, the state’s only land-based casino, planned to close Saturday at 6 pm, according to its website.
Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, the land-based Harrah’s casino in New Orleans, and four racinos — horse tracks with video slot machines.
In Mississippi, six casinos were expected to close by Saturday, said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
I expect the others will close, also,” Godfrey told Casino.org.
Mississippi has 26 commercial casinos. Of these, 12 are on the Gulf Coast, including eight in the Biloxi area. Last year, casinos in Mississippi and Louisiana were damaged in hurricanes, causing millions of dollars in damage and lost revenue.
Ida’s Destructive Force
The casino closings along the coast were a precautionary move in anticipation of the major hurricane churning northward up the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana.
Hurricane Ida was expected to plow ashore Sunday near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a destructive Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph. Hurricanes in that extremely dangerous category pack winds of 130 mph and above.
Evacuations were underway throughout the area in advance of the anticipated landfall Sunday afternoon or evening.
After making landfall, Ida was projected to move inland toward the Baton Rouge area. Officials at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge canceled classes through Monday, including virtual classes.
Strong winds and heavy rain are expected to strafe the shoreline from Texas to Alabama and beyond.
Along the Louisiana coast, a storm surge of up to 11 feet is possible, according to the Associated Press. New Orleans, which is 9.84 feet below sea level in places, is projected to be on the eastern side of the hurricane. That side is known as the “dirty side” because of its more destructive potential.
The preseason NFL game scheduled for Saturday in the Caesars Superdome between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals has been canceled.
Ida’s arrival comes 16 years to the day in 2005 that catastrophic Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Buras, La., south of New Orleans. When it hit, Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane, with 125 mph winds.
Federal levees in New Orleans broke during the hurricane, flooding 80 percent of the city. Many residents sought shelter in the Superdome and at other sites.
East of there in Biloxi, barge casinos were torn from their moorings during Hurricane Katrina and tossed onto land 200 yards from the shore.
Katrina was responsible for the deaths of 1,833 people in five states combined.
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