Casino Magic Bay St. Louis celebrated its ninth anniversary on Sunday, and some Hancock County residents are praising the casino for helping to turn the economy around.
Nine years ago, Howard Weaver Sr. went to work at the newly built casino. Since then he's been able to work his way up into management. He says the casino industry brought in job opportunities that weren't available before.
"People with maybe not as much education as far as college degrees and specialized fields probably would have had to move on," Weaver said. "This offers another opportunity, and if you enjoy working with people the casino business is definitely a nice place to be in."
Hancock County resident Robert Williams agrees. He says before the casino located there most folks were barely scraping by on minimum wage jobs. Now instead of people leaving Hancock County for better jobs, he says people are coming in and spending money here.
"You see the difference you know. Tourism," Williams said. "You see faces that you never dreamed of seeing before you know. So definitely, it's had a big impact."
Not only is Casino Magic Bay St. Louis celebrating it's nine-year history, it's also moving towards the future. A new 14-story hotel expected to open next summer will mean almost 300 new rooms.
Casino spokesperson Jeana Tribble said "We believe that there is opportunity for growth especially for us here in Bay St. Louis. We have an Arnold Palmer Golf Course, and we believe the addition of our hotel will allow us to expand our business and grow the market on the Gulf Coast"
Casino Magic Bay St. Louis employs more than 1,200 people, and officials say they expect to hire an additional 300 employees once the new hotel opens. Last year, the casino put more than $3 million in tax money into the coffers of Bay St. Louis and Hancock County.