As they strolled past the Beau Rivage retail shops, the Bermuda entourage called their trips to Biloxi and New Orleans casinos fact finding missions. The mayor of Hamilton Bermuda says gambling could be what gives new life to his city's aging waterfront.
"We've got one of the most beautiful waterfronts but at the moment we park cars underneath the passenger terminal so we're looking at demolishing those buildings and putting up a first class terminal building for our cruise ships," says Mayor Lawson Mapp.
Cruise ships bring people who like to gamble but the mayor says there's not very much of that in Bermuda, only unregulated slot machines in some of the businesses. The government is considering legalizing gambling this summer and that could mean a world of difference to the island economy.
Alderwoman Sonia Grant says, "Certainly it can enhance the overall tourism product that we have and if the government was to decide that gaming was to become legal on the first of July, 2004, certainly we see that as part of the revitalization of our tourism."
Biloxi attorney Michael Cavanaugh and Ed Markle, a New Orleans attorney, are the liaisons between the Bermuda visitors and the casinos.
"There's a lot of issues to be concerned with and they can have some good ideas so when they go back to Bermuda they can get input from all the different agencies," Cavanaugh says.
"We were looking for the same thing in Louisiana, finding ways and means to make money for the people, to increase the jobs, increase educational money and to find a way to solve our economic problems and I think that's what they're looking for," says Markle.
Their trip is short, but Mayor Mapp says, if given the chance, he looks forward to modeling casinos in his island paradise after those on the Mississippi Coast.