Hard to believe it has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina decimated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and one of the nation’s largest casino markets along with it. The images of the destruction are hard to forget—stripped trees, blown-out houses, swamped buildings, multi-ton casino barges driven inland and then strewn about like so much flotsam and jetsam. Looking at the damage, you would have thought it would take decades for the casino industry, let alone the region, to fully recover.

As it happened, it did not take anywhere near that amount of time for the Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming industry to get back on its feet. Indeed, by 2007, the casino resorts were largely rebuilt and pulling in 1.30 billion a year in revenue, surpassing the 1.22 billion the marketplace earned the year prior to Katrina. Credit government officials for the timely recovery—they realized casinos importance to the region’s overall economy and quickly removed barriers to recovery, including antiquated enabling legislation that forced wagering enterprises to operate only on water. Thanks also goes to casino operators who were willing to rebuild and reopen improved gaming facilities despite the certain fact more hurricanes are bound to strike the Gulf Coast.

This quick return to economic normalcy may explain why the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is treated with such seeming nonchalance by the gaming industry as a whole; and that is a shame. If nothing else, the storm and the recovery effort showed that it is possible for federal, state and local officials and casino operators to be on the same page when it comes to gaming policy—a very rare thing, as many gaming veterans can attest. Too bad this multi-level cooperation and agreement was so short-lived; more such government and gaming alliances would be of use elsewhere across the Country. Even, surprisingly, along the Gulf Coast, which is seeking greater infrastructure and entertainment development to combat market encroachment by neighboring casino jurisdictions.

I would be remiss if I did not alert the readers of Casino Journal to some changes occurring on the magazine staff. Bill Stinson, media sales manager at Casino Journal andSlot Manager for the past two years, is leaving to take another sales position at a BNP Media publication. It was great working with Bill and I wish him nothing but luck at his new publication.

Taking over as national sales manager for Casino Journal and Slot Manager will be Pam Latty, a long-time trade publication veteran who has held executive sales positions at Boating Industry, Traffic World andAir Cargo World magazines. She is based in Georgia and can be reached at lattyp@bnpmedia.com.

This issue will also be the last for associate editor Megan Clemens, who is leaving to become managing editor of Packaging Strategies, a BNP Media publication. Megan made great strides in the year she had been working for Casino Journal, and I know she will be a star at her new publication.

Joining Casino Journal as freelance associate editor is Joan Mantini, who most recently worked as a public relations specialist for Winning Futures, a non-profit organization that provides mentoring services to young people. Joan can be reached at joan@casinojournal.com.

Feel free to drop Pam and Joan a line and welcome them onboard.