Sept. 9, 2005 – The Treasure Bay Casino was located just off shore of a 26-mile stretch of white sandy beach in Biloxi, Miss. until Hurricane Katrina ripped through the area on Aug. 29, obliterating everything in its path. The once-famous casino is now an empty shell. Some of the casino's displaced workers may find their way to another stretch of sandy beach on the south shore of St. Croix. Treasure Bay's sister casino the Divi Carina Bay Casino which has opened its arms to the Mississippi workers.
"It's totally destroyed," Barbara Shattles, Divi Carina Bay Casino's general manager said. "They've heard from about 250 of their 1,000 employees and have speculated that about half have lost their homes."
Shattles said the casino was themed to look like a pirate ship and the land-based hotel, which provided support facilities, looked like a fort. The 41,000 square foot casino featured more than 900 slots and 46 gaming tables. The property had four restaurants and the hotel has 250 rooms.
Since August 1992, casinos, which by law must be built off shore, have boosted the area's tourism industry. Last year Mississippi casinos generated $42.7 billion in revenues, according to a story on msnbc.com last week. Each casino has a land-based hotel. The coast is home to several hotels and casinos including Grand Casino, Hard Rock, Treasure Bay, Palace Casino, Boomtown and President Casino. All were in the direct path of the hurricane.
Shattles said some of the stateside employees are assisting in the hotel and casino's clean-up efforts and that Divi has offered a safe haven for those who want to come to St. Croix. "We have about 14 temporary jobs through season that we can offer displaced Treasure Bay employees, Shattles said. "We have had offers of air, rooms, and funds to help them get started and the team in Biloxi is mobilizing that effort."
Clean-up equipment is coming down from Colorado and architects are already putting together plans to temporarily relocate the Mississippi casino on the second floor of the hotel, Shattles said.
In addition to owning the Divi Carina Bay Casino, Treasure Bay Corp holds the franchise agreement to operate the Randall "Doc" James Racetrack.
While Shattles worries about the fate of the employees in Biloxi, she is also worried about her own family who also lives on the Gulf Coast. Her parents and sister, live in McComb, Miss., which is about 60 miles west of where the eye of the storm came through.
"My sister e-mailed me recently, she is taking care of mom and dad; it's hard, but they are survivors," Shattles said. "They are under curfew and grateful for FEMA and the ice and water they brought. She said, "It's the only relief for a lot of people."
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