The coast's first casino turns 18

Isle of Capri Casino in the 1990s
Isle of Capri Casino in the 1990s

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Turning 18 is a rite of passage, and it's no different for the Biloxi's Isle Casino and Resort.

"It's been just like a roller coaster ride, you don't know what's around the next corner," said Human Resources Coordinator Cherronda McCord, who has been with the Isle since the beginning.

The casino opened its doors in 1992 as the Isle of Capri, and it forever changed Mississippi's coastal economy by introducing the gaming industry.

"It had a lot of challenges I'm sure," said General Manager Doug Shipley. "When new jurisdictions open up you have a lot of legislative challenges, you have a lot of challenges on the local level as well on the state level."

"I love seeing all the changes over the past years: Coming from the river boats, to buildings and offices on little bitty barges where it was ten of us shoved into one room, to now where we have our own offices and office space," said McCord.

The casino has gone through a lot of changes over 18 years, including shortening the name and getting rid of its iconic parrot.  However, members and staff say there is one thing that will never change.

"Well, for certain, the friendliness of our team members. I think you can go up and down and look at all 11 casinos up and down the Gulf Coast and you won't find as friendly a group of folks as you do at the Isle," said Shipley.

However, it hasn't always been paradise for the Isle.  It has weathered storms, recessions and now the Gulf oil disaster.

"Some of the bigger challenges have obviously been some of the storms we've weathered," said Shipley. "But for us, we've been very fortunate. We have a very good product."

The general manager says as the Isle moves out of adolescence, it's looking for what's next.

"Certainly we hope growth, because in the last 18 years we've grown from this property to 15 properties. Four of those properties are located right here in Mississippi."

Shipley says no matter the next challenge, he couldn't ask for a better place to work than right here in the coast's first casino.

The Isle will be celebrating all month long with giveaways and various activities.

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