Sunday, September 04, 2005

Floating Casinos

The massive floating casinos outside Biloxi show another major design flaw. It turns out that hotels that could withstand category III and IV hurricane winds, were not able to withstand the force of a floating casino thrown against shore by a storm surge.

There is also indication that the floating casino industry drew a large number of people into an area that was susceptible to major damage by storms. Many of the people drawn to Biloxi by the casino culture could not afford to evacuate. (NOTE, I suspect that some of the poor were simply people who gambled everything away).

The casinos managed to magnify the effects a predictable natural event.

Pundits are pointing to the casinos as free enterprise run amuck. I think the floating casinos were the result of regulations to control gamble run amuck.

The floating casino industry came from laws passed in the 1990s designed to help revive the Riverboat industry and river fronts districts in several central states. While some of the first Riverboats pushed off from shore before opening tables, most floating casinos were simply anchored to docks.

The river boats did revitalize some river front districts. However, the idea that floating casinos are somehow okay brought gambling into all sorts of low lying districts. The floating casino industry brought development to riparian zones and beautiful beaches that would have been best left undeveloped. The net effect of the regulated industry was to bring folk out of the hills and into low lying districts that were prone to flooding.

It seems to me that bad laws tend to lead to bad results, even when the intentions behind the law were good.

Katrina was really the first sign of this nasty design flaw. Since flooding along rivers, and storms at sea are recurring events, I think the industry will continue to be a source of unnecessary suffering.

There seems to be some merit into using casinos to revitalize different areas. Overall, I think the idea of floating casinos will prove a bad idea. Hopefully, Mississippi will revisit the law before wasting the beach front of Biloxi with a new generation of floating casinos.

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