Mississippi Casinos Back to Life After Massive Flooding

While North Dakota continues to deal with devastating flooding, other hard-hit areas of the country are coming back to life.

After 36 days and more than $36 million in lost revenue, DiamondJacks Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg, MS, has opened its doors again, having been shut down in anticipation of the historic flood levels along the Mississippi River.

Two of Vicksburgs five casinos were closed due to severe flooding along the river, which crested at 57.1 feet, more than 14 feet above flood stage, on May 19 in Vicksburg.

Casino revenue makes up nearly a fourth of the citys $70-million annual budget, according to Mayor Paul Winfield. Now that Rainbow Hotel and Casino, which re-opened May 27, and DiamondJacks are back in business, all five of Vicksburgs casinos are up and running -- which Winfield says is a significant step towards our recovery.

It plays a major part.  Because not only are we looking at gaming revenues and sales tax revenues, were looking at hotel stays, Winfield explains.  We want everyone to know Vicksburg is high and dry&We need them to come, we want them to come.

A small gathering came and anxiously awaited the opening of DiamondJacks earlier this month.  It was a much-welcomed sight for the casinos general manager, Felicia Gavin, who was eager to open again after shutting down for more than a month, and losing a minimum of $36-million dollars in business, according to her estimates.

Everyday that we were closed during those 36 days we were losing millions of dollars everyday, and that translates into lost revenue for the state and lost revenue for the city, Gavin explains.

The official tax and revenue figures from the flood stage are currently being crunched and will be released later this week.

During the 36-day shutdown, Legends Gaming, DiamondJacks owner, continued paying the casinos 400 employees full salary and benefits.  In turn, more than half of them spent the time off taking part in flood recovery efforts volunteering more than 600 hours of service.

"When it became evident that we were going to be closed for an extended period, our employees stepped forward to say 'we want to help,' " said Gavin.

Now, she says, they are all excited to just get back to work.