Mississippi casinos celebrate silver anniversary

Mississippi casinos celebrate silver anniversary
Coast casinos earned $108.5 million in April 2018, up 9% last year. (Photo Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Many of the men and women who opened Mississippi's first dockside casino returned to Point Cadet Friday night.

The property where they once worked had a new name, and a much different look. But, that didn't matter. The men and women tied to the Isle of Capri were back together, celebrating 25 years of friendship, and 25 years of dedication to a company and to an industry.

The Isle was Mississippi's first casino. It opened August 1, 1992 on a hot summer day on Biloxi's eastern tip. Thousands stood in the sweltering heat, waiting for a chance to walk aboard two riverboats docked at Point Cadet and tempt lady luck.

Tim Hinkley was an executive with the Isle of Capri. When he thinks about those lines, he smiles. "That was my instant recollection," he recently said, "that we might have something here. And obviously we did."

Hinkley had the daunting task of finding a home for his company's two riverboats. He chose Point Cadet, it's dusty parking lot, and the old Factory restaurant building. His team had just more than four months to turn a rundown property into a dockside casino. "The whole year was a blur, it really went that fast."

Hinkley is no longer part of the Isle of Capri. The company sold its Biloxi property to Landry's, who renamed the resort Golden Nugget. But, the former casino executive will always be part of the fabric of Mississippi's gaming industry. "Our name recognition from being first got us the best employees," he said. "It got us recognition from then on. And I think we did a good job with it. But, good for the coast. Good for the state."

Look for more stories about the 25th anniversary of legalized gambling in Mississippi over the next several days on WLOX, WLOX.com and the WLOX app.

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