IP Casino Draws Big Crowds On Opening Day

A crowd of anxious gamblers greeted Thursday's grand re-opening of Imperial Palace casino. IP is the first of three Biloxi casinos set to open by the end of this month.

Long lines of traffic and a crowded gaming floor accompanied the festivities.

Mayor A.J. Holloway called it a great day for Biloxi. It's an early Christmas present that means an economic boost of 1500 jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Gamblers who lined up early Thursday morning had a little longer wait than expected. An anxious crowd lined the lobby for the anticipated 9am opening.

"Can't wait to have that ribbon cut and go in there and do my thing," said Barbara Parson of Biloxi.

The ribbon was ready. While construction crews attended to last minute details, other workers did some decorating. As gamblers waited, dealers on the casino floor enjoyed the last moment calm before the crowd.

"We're just ready for some customers man! Welcome to the IP," said one waiting dealer.

But "technical gaming issues" forced a two hour delay in the scheduled opening, much to the dismay of the increasing crowd.

"We are very sorry for the delay. We will be opening our doors at eleven o'clock," said an IP spokesman, who was greeted with some heckling from the growing crowd.

This time Lady Luck was with IP. Just minutes before eleven the mayor welcomed the crowd and praised the grand opening.

"Is this a great day or what?" said Mayor A. J. Holloway.

He kept the comments short and the ribbon cutting which followed gave way to the rush of anxious visitors.

Inside, customers enjoyed a sparkling new IP, while the casino manager breathed a sigh of relief and credited his crew.

"Employing 1500 people. And our employees see hope in the rebuilding process here on the coast. And the community sees this as a real first giant step," said IP's Jon Lucas.

Julia Mills was a happy slot player on opening day. Fighting the crowds paid off in a hurry.

"Just put my $100 bill in there and started playing, that's it," she said, after winning some $1200 on the slots.

Her's wasn't the only smile on opening day. Like the slogan says, "IP is the place to be".

"As you can see from the response, it's obviously being well received," said a smiling Jon Lucas.