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Post-Katrina law change creates land rush on Gulf Coast

Published November 10, 2006


BILOXI, Miss. - In Point Cadet, a hurricane-battered, blue-collar neighborhood in east Biloxi, casino operators are snatching up tracts of land from property owners whose homes were flattened by Hurricane Katrina.

The land rush generated by the Gulf Coast's casino industry is creating a wave of instant millionaires, thanks to a new law.

A few weeks after Katrina, Mississippi passed a law allowing floating casino barges to move ashore and build up to 800 feet inland - a change designed to jump-start the region's economic recovery and protect the hotel resorts from future storms.

The move sent property values soaring for some homeowners.

Nine of the 12 casinos that operated on Mississippi's Gulf Coast before Katrina have reopened. In September, the reopened casinos had nearly 14,000 employees and took in $241-million, the most ever generated during that month since gambling was legalized here in 1992, according to the state.

"Everybody in Biloxi thinks they live on a condo site or a casino site," said Beverly Martin, director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association. "A lot of people are holding out in anticipation that someone will show interest in their property."

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:50:49]

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