Driven by an unwavering commitment to the employees, residents and visitors of the Mid-South region, MGM Resorts International’s Gold Strike Casino Resort Tunica will reopen its doors for business today – just two weeks after rising Mississippi River floodwaters forced a mandatory closure of all Tunica County’s nine casinos.
The Mississippi River reached its crest on May 10, 2011 at 47.8 feet, the second highest reading on record, surpassed only by the 48.7-foot crest in February 1937.
Gold Strike successfully prevented Mississippi River water from entering the resort and the recently-renovated facility remains like new, due in large part to the deployment of state-of-the-art technology and dedication of its 1,400 team members.
“We’re anxious to open our doors for our customers and to get our employees back to work,” said George P. Corchis, Jr., president and COO of MGM Resorts International Regional Operations. “Our initial priority was the safety of our employees and guests. Once secure, our focus turned to mitigation efforts and asset protection. Now comes the exciting part, where we get to bring our incredible employees back to reopen the property and re-ignite tourism to the region.”
In addition to employing more than 1,400 team members, the reopening of the 1,200-room Gold Strike will have an immediate, positive impact on the local economy while simultaneously fueling Mississippi tourism - the second largest industry in the state. Besides revenue generated from hotel room tax receipts, food & beverage, entertainment and retail taxes, Tunica’s nine casinos average $90 million in gross gaming revenue each May. Closing the casinos for the month could lead to a $10 million loss in gaming tax revenue to the state and local governments, not to mention payroll taxes for 9,300 casino employees. The ripple effect impacts all businesses from gas stations to local shops that support the tourism economy.
Supporting Gold Strike employees has been the top priority for MGM Resorts. The company has a long-standing practice of supporting its employees in times of emergency and natural disaster and Gold Strike employees have been guaranteed full pay and benefits including tips, throughout the closure. For employees who live in flooded areas, MGM Resorts is helping facilitate access to company emergency relief funds and federal assistance that can help families through this difficult time. The employee health clinic, located across the levee from the resort, has remained open during the shutdown and human resource representatives are onsite seven days a week. In addition, a temporary dining facility, known as the “Levee Cafe,” has been open 24/7 for employees, emergency management and other government officials, first responders, gaming industry employees and anyone else interested in a free hot meal during the resort’s temporary closure. The long-standing partnership between MGM Resorts and the American Red Cross was further strengthened with the training of more than 50 Gold Strike employee volunteers in damage assessment and shelter operations for mobilization as this historic event unfolded.
MGM Resorts International used large-scale Aqua-Barrier® and Army Corps of Engineers-certified HESCO® baskets to safeguard Gold Strike from the Mississippi River. Thirty five hundred linear feet of the 8 ft. high x 100 ft. long Aqua-Barriers - each filled with 90,000 gallons of rising floodwater- were used to successfully envelop the entire circumference of the main structure and outbuildings. HESCO baskets – wire mesh nets filled with gravel and interconnected like blocks – covered 2,000 linear feet and formed an additional line of defense around the facility. More than 40,000 sandbags were filled for added protection. These technologies essentially created a mile-long manmade levee system around the 1.4 million sq. ft. resort. Four mooring columns that support the barge structure were also extended by 5 ft. in height to help support expected water level increases.
At 32-stories high, Gold Strike’s iconic gold windowpane tower is the tallest building in the Mississippi Delta and a Tunica landmark. MGM Resorts has played a significant role in Tunica’s tourism revitalization with its recent multimillion-dollar property transformation and is committed in its efforts to rebuild and renew the region after this historic flood. “Beyond supporting the livelihood of our employees and their families,” said Gold Strike General Manager George Goldhoff, “Gaming will fuel economic development in the region, spurring tax income and capital investments to benefit the industry’s employees, the local community and the entire state. Everyone at MGM Resorts is extremely optimistic about Tunica’s tourism and the gaming industry. We’re back and committed to play an integral role in the area’s success.”