Re “Casinos Booming in Katrina’s Wake as Cash Pours In,” July 16):
Gary Rivlin’s recent piece missed the real story. The headline should have read “Casinos’ Revival In Katrina’s Wake Drives Economic Recovery of Gulf.”
Mr. Rivlin’s report that revenues are back, or nearly back, to pre-Katrina levels is accurate. But the real story is the jobs and opportunity that have returned to this region as a result. The economic recovery of the Gulf Coast is far further along because our industry is delivering on its promise to come back bigger and better. Our companies have spent close to $1.4 billion to rebuild. And, because we are building back better, we anticipate attracting visitors from around the world.
Even more important is the impact of our recovery on our employees, who lost more than their place of employment in the storm. Thanks to our success, nearly 20,000 men and women in Louisiana and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast once again have jobs and hope, making a combined annual salary of nearly $500 million. The rebuilding also has created tens of thousands of construction jobs, which, when combined with the number of gaming employees and the jobs created to support our employees and facilities, makes the impact on the region obvious and important.
The industry’s tax revenues and community donations also have meant more help for the entire area, including schools, hospitals, shelters and many other public works.
While the business success of casinos certainly is a story, the impact of that success – jobs for today and hope for the future – is the story that should have been written.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association