Few cruises offer high stakes casino games. Very few storms unwind to such high stakes force as Hurricane Irma. Like countless other activities that had made the islands off the Central American coast a mecca of fun-loving travellers, the Royal Caribbean casino has pulled in its fair share of tourists across the turquoise waters.
Now the cruises have halted operations as the deadliest force of nature on record crawled out of the Atlantic waters to pummel the region with winds of up to 185 mph, floods, and devastation.
However, that did not stop the Royal Caribbean’s relief mission to deploy a fleet of its Kraken-sized ships to help the islandeers on St. Thomas and St. Maarten affected by Hurricane Irma.
No WCOOP streaming from the Caribbean
Nor did it make a dent in Bill Perkins’ plans to take the top Twitch poker streamers on a Caribbean tour in his yacht.
As part of the Streamboat2 project, the crew was supposed to stream the ongoing World Championship of Online Poker from the floating abode of poker player, financier and eccentric prop bettor Bill Perkins.
Jeff Gross, Kevin Martin, and Matt and Jaime Staples were expected to dock on the British Virgin Islands for a session of intense Twitch streaming of WCOOP 2017, but Irma cut their trip short and they had to evacuate on Perkins’ private jet.
2017 WSOP Circuit Event Is a No Dice on St. Maarten
Another huge gambling event that got cancelled due to the Category 5 hurricane sweeping in was the World Series of Poker International Circuit on St. Maarten, Caribbean.
The host, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino, sustained severe damage and delayed all reservations until the beginning of 2018, including the WSOP Circuit event that was supposed to happen on Nov.1-15.
The luxurious Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino issued an apology statement:
"The damages to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Royal Casino are severe, as is widespread damage and destruction on our beloved island of Sint Maarten. Severe damage has also occurred at Princess Juliana International Airport, and we do not have news as to when the airport will resume operations."
WPT Deepstacks Cancelled As Irma Hits Florida
World Poker tournaments went on a losing streak when this unpredictable opponent, Hurricane Irma, took center stage. Another worldwide event had to be cancelled in Immokalee, Florida near Fort Myers "due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida."
The World Poker Tournament (WPT) Deepstacks was supposed to take place at the Seminole Casino Hotel between Sept. 1-10, but announced they will reschedule for a more weather-friendly day.
Storms Race Faster Than Thoroughbreds
Poker rooms across the state of Florida had shut doors in expectation of the record-strong hurricane. And racinos have followed suit.
Live racing will be suspended until further notice.
Hurricane Irma versus the Royal Caribbean Casinos
No one is really contemplating tossing the dice while sailing towards the gin-clear waters of the French-governed islands. And the Royal Caribbean Casino can’t afford to be the self-titled “little slice of Vegas right at sea” right now. The company’s efforts should be directed to more humanitarian causes.
But how will the landscape of land-based gambling change post-Irma? Moreover, since the Caribbean ring islands seems to be in recovery mode, how will the peak tourism season (Christmas holidays all the way through Easter) look like among the debris, the ravaged homes and the weather-battered economy?
Below we’ve outlined the worst of Hurricane Irma’s blows and the devastation left in its wake.
- Antigua and Barbuda: While Antigua has kept outside the hurricane’s path, Barbuda suffered the most damage since the reports on Irma started flooding in. 90% of homes were battered to the ground, the hotel infrastructure suffered serious damage, and the essentials- water, food, electricity- are still missing.
- The Bahamas: While the Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau is on green, other local airports and cruise ports have closed operations for the time being. However, the famous turquoise waters and the sandy white beaches have all but been replaced by a muddy flat wasteland as the waters retreated in a post-storm phenomenon known as a negative surge.
- Cuba: On the island of 1950s Mafia gambling havens, thousands of tourists were evacuated from the storm’s path to Havana and Varadero.
- Barthelemy: Hurricane Irma wreacked havoc among the domestic, governmental and touristic buildings on St. Barth’s. The Eden Rock Hotel sustained heavy damage and floods ran prevalent on the island for days.
- Anguilla: There has been massive damage on Anguilla with 90% of buildings destroyed, electricity and water infrastructure fractured. The relief aid falls within British hands who have already promised support to the island.
- Florida: Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida Keys, tearing down trees, rooftops, electricity poles, cars, gas stations, roads, and lives.
The death toll remained in double digits with 22 people reported deceased as Hurricane Irma moved inland from the American coast.
Mostly thanks to the forecasts of meteorologists, due warnings and governmental response, entire cities and islands could evacuate in advance.
“When they were looking at a storm of this size, as well as its intensity, we knew it was not something that you gamble with,” declared Carruthers, a Monroe County commissioner, to the LA Times. “This is one you get out of the way for. We think we made the right call.”