NEW ORLEANS – Though a full recovery is still some years off, the U.S. Gulf Coast can look forward to a successful economic future within the next decade, according to the results of a new survey of regional leaders released today at G2E Institute. The experts surveyed also assert that the gaming industry is leading the way in recovery efforts, both as a significant contributor to the overall recovery effort and as the fastest-recovering industry in the region.
The survey, the fifth volume of the G2E Future Watch Series, examines the status of the U.S. Gulf Coast’s recovery and the outlook for redevelopment over the next 10 years through the eyes of gaming industry, business, government and community leaders in the Gulf Coast region. The G2E Future Watch series is an original research series released in conjunction with G2E events each year.
“While we in the gaming industry realize the process of recovery on the Gulf Coast is far from over, this edition of the Future Watch series indicates how instrumental our industry has been in the recovery efforts to date and how bright the future is for the region,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), an organizer of G2E Institute along with Reed Exhibitions. “There certainly are many challenges that lie ahead, but this survey shows we’re clearly on the right track to helping this region achieve an even greater level of success than was exhibited before the storms.”
The experts surveyed were divided on the current economic conditions on the coast, with a majority (60 percent) saying the economic conditions in their area are “very good” and just fewer than one-third (30 percent) saying they are “not so good.” However, three out of four say the economy in their area has responded either “much better” (25 percent) or “somewhat better” (50 percent) than they had anticipated following the hurricanes.
When asked to describe the gaming industry’s role in overall recovery efforts, a significant majority of respondents (65 percent) think casino companies operating in their area “very much helped” in aiding local communities’ recoveries, while another 30 percent say the industry “somewhat helped” get the region back on its feet.
Survey respondents also say that, nearly two years after the storms, a number of gaming industry components have recovered to near pre-hurricane levels. Casino gaming revenues were considered to be the furthest along in terms of returning to where they once were (90 percent of respondents think they have either “fully” or “mostly returned”), followed by employee and staffing levels (65 percent say they have “fully” or mostly” returned), customer visitation (60 percent) and hotel facilities (50 percent).
While important progress has been made, the experts surveyed point to a number of challenges still remaining in the Gulf Coast recovery effort, with the housing market and the availability of affordable insurance continuing to be major concerns. Nearly everyone interviewed says there is either a “severe” (65 percent) or “moderate” (30 percent) shortage of housing for low- and middle-income residents in the areas of the Gulf Coast impacted by the hurricanes, and the time frame by which respondents expect the housing shortage to be resolved is sobering. A majority (58 percent) thinks it will be three to five years before it is corrected, while another third (32 percent) believes it will take six to 10 years.
Other challenges also were identified. A plurality of respondents (45 percent) say “making insurance available and affordable” is the single most important problem to be solved in order to advance recovery on the coast. This ranks ahead of “rebuilding and repairing infrastructure” (25 percent), “ensuring the receipt of federal reconstruction dollars” (15 percent) and “restoring government services to normal” (10 percent).
Despite these challenges, 80 percent of the experts surveyed think the overall level of tourism in the Gulf Coast region will be greater 10 years from now than it was prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They also are nearly unanimous in their belief that the casino industry will grow more quickly than the rest of the Gulf Coast economy over the next five to 10 years, and that the number of casino properties along the coast will increase at least somewhat over this time frame (95 percent agree in both cases). When asked what non-gaming amenities will prove most successful at Gulf Coast casinos in the future, 34 percent of respondents selected retail and shopping (34 percent), while 31 percent think high-end restaurants are the amenities that will prove most successful in the future.
An executive summary of the Future Watch survey findings is available on the AGA Web site at www.americangaming.org . G2E Institute is part of the G2E portfolio of events. For more information on G2E or G2E Institute, visit www.globalgamingexpo.com  or www.G2EInstitute.com .
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is the international gaming trade show and conference “by the industry and for the industry.” Organized by the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Reed Exhibitions, G2E made its debut in fall 2001, defining itself as the pre-eminent show for the gaming-entertainment industry. The G2E portfolio of events includes G2E Institute and G2E Asia.
The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leader in organizing a wide range of events, including exhibitions, conferences, congresses and meetings. In 2006 Reed brought together more than 6 million industry professions from around the world, generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held in 34 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, and organized by 37 fully staffed offices. Reed’s portfolio of more than 460 events services 52 key industry sectors.
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