Casino Executives Look To The Coast's Long Term Future

Bigger, better and with a lot more than just gaming. That's the future experts are predicting for the Mississippi Gulf Coast casino industry.

On Tuesday, Isle of Capri and Palace casino executives updated the Biloxi city council on what's going on to get them both reopened before the end of the year. Also back in business next month will be the Imperial Palace. Casino executives spoke about what they see in the crystal ball in ten, fifteen, and even 20 years from now.

With a little training, the Imperial Palace's newest employees should have little trouble booking guests into the resort's newly remodeled hotel rooms. New rooms. New restaurants. A new lobby. Actually the entire casino is getting a face lift.

"I think you're going to see a totally different look when we open the doors," said Jon Lucas, Imperial Palace general manager. "It's going to be much more contemporary and much more upscale. We really think the community is going to love the new facility."

Over the next 10 to 20 years, Lucas foresees a coast casino industry less focused on slot machines and table games.

"I think you're going to see it evolve to more than just a gambling facility. It's going to become more full service. It's going to become entertainment venues and just a greater experience than just the gaming aspect."

The Isle of Capri is raising the bar at its resort now that land based gambling is an option.

"We're planning on building just a super casino complex unlike any that we've ever had here," said Bill Kilduff Isle of Capri general manager. "It's going to be a huge complex with gaming, entertainment, restaurants, convention space. The fact that we are able to build on shore, out of the water, out of harm's way, gives us the confidence to go ahead and in that direction."

Casino executives say with vision and good planning, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has the potential to become a top vacation destination.

"I think the gaming companies that are going to rebuild and the new gaming companies that are talking about coming in, the magnitude of the investment is going to be really giant," said Kilduff. "I think this could be an area unparalleled in the entire United States. This is just a great area."

Isle of Capri officials say when the casino re-opens on December 26th there will be more than 900 slot machines and two dozen table games. The gaming floor has been moved to what was the convention area before Katrina.