Its another first for the Isle of Capri. Mississippi's first dockside casino is about to be its first on shore casino. Katrina's devastation forced the Isle to transform its hotel's brand new meeting rooms into a glitzy new, land based casino.
Sandy Holmes just got a tour of her new work environment. "It's going to give everybody an uplift," she said with a smile.
Construction dust in the Point Cadet property was reminiscent of 1992, when the Isle first turned a dusty parking lot into a dockside casino.
Rich Westfall has been with the casino since day one. He said the Isle was most excited about "getting open and providing jobs to kind of spark the rebuilding aspect of Biloxi."
The Isle already has enough dealers to run its new casino floor. But it still needs 185 other employees to work around the rest of the resort. So over at Mercy Cross High School, the Isle hosted a job fair.
Before the hurricane, Gary Mullin was training to become a casino dealer. He never finished the course. So, he applied for a security position.
"I need to get a job," he said. "I need to get out of the house. It's starting to work on me."
If Mullin is one of the 900 people who help reopen the Isle on December 26, he'll be part of the new, post Katrina, on shore era of Mississippi's casino industry.
"After all the tragedy we've been through, it's just great," Holmes said. "We're all looking forward to it."
The Isle is actually the second casino scheduled to reopen this month. The Imperial Palace reopens first. The back bay resort unlocks its slot machines next Thursday. Its casino survived Katrina, so the gambling action will remain on its barge.
The Isle and the Palace Casino will both take advantage of new on shore gaming rules. The Isle opens the day after Christmas. And the Palace invites gamblers back on December 30th.