Recovery, leadership efforts, and the casino industry in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina

Ethan Jon Joella

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the following three interlocking areas of theory: (a) casinos as economic engines; (b) tourism recovery following a disaster or negative event; and, (c) economic/social characteristics that facilitate recovery after disasters generally. This study examines the necessary ingredients for a speedy disaster recovery (typified in the casino industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast). This study employs a qualitative interview design with elite interviewing to test the theory and provide evidence and context to it. With interview questions informed by Rubin's three elements that influence the recovery process within a community (Rubin as cited in Johnson, 2007), this study utilizes a descriptive qualitative interview design to ascertain the various industry professionals', consultants', tourism officials' and state regulators' perspectives of the casino industry's role in revitalizing the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. The findings show that an even distribution of strong leadership and a strong institutional support setting explains the recovery in Mississippi. This empirically supported principle may be applied to other disaster relief incidences, natural and otherwise. These findings are helpful to other casino locales that may wish to take steps in advance to mitigate against disasters, and to non-casino locales that are considering adding casino gaming as well.