Isle's Birthday Wish Is In Chicago

Nobody knew that when Eugenia Wylie took a gamble in 1992, the blackjack dealer's move from Iowa to Biloxi would become permanent. "It's really weird sometimes that it's been that long a period of time," she said, just before her shift ended.

Nobody really knew that 12 years later, the company Wylie followed to South Mississippi would become a major player in the gaming industry.

Les McMackin is senior vice president of marketing for the Isle of Capri corporation. "When I first got here, no I didn't," he admitted. McMackin joined the Mississippi company in 1996. "Mississippi is the third largest gaming market in the country in terms of revenue," he said. "So it has the respect out there, and it has the attention of everybody."

Since August 1, 1992, the Isle of Capri has expanded its wings from one casino in Biloxi to 18 gambling destinations in six states, Grand Bahamas, and the United Kingdom.

A $518 million proposal to open an Isle resort outside Chicago is the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the Biloxi based company. "I thought the company was big enough. The question was, were we going to be bold enough to do it," McMackin said. "There is a great deal of anticipation on our part to try and get it done. And a little bit of angst, because it's going some place we haven't been before."

Eugenia Wylie knows exactly what that angst feels like. Fortunately, the casino dealer's gamble to move with the Isle a dozen years ago hit the jackpot. "I can't imagine now doing something else," she said.