Bridge Boosts Business On Casino Row

Businesses around South Mississippi are still impressed with the growing number of customers since the re-opening of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge. There are two lanes open and more scheduled to open next year, making the bridge South Mississippi's link to the Eastern Gulf Coast.

"Without the bridge open, it really did disrupt the normal traffic patterns here on the coast," says Rich Westfall with the Isle of Capri.

He says he is convinced that the five percent increase in gaming over the last year is due to the re-opening of the bridge.

When Hurricane Katrina destroyed the bridge, casino leaders knew it would lose customers who travel from Jackson County, Mobile and Pensacola, but now that the bridge has reopened, they say business is booming.

"MDOT has said that were averaging about 21,000 cars coming across the bridge on a daily basis," Westfall said.

He says those cars are forced to pass by the Isle, which gives the casino an advantage over its competitors.

However, LuAnn Pappas says the same can be said for the Grand Casino.

"We have seen our business increase since last year and certainly since the bridge has opened," Pappas said.

She says with the influx of traffic, the Grand can offer even more amenities to its guest. Now casino leaders can't wait to see what six lanes on the bridge will mean for South Mississippi's growing casino industry.

MDOT anticipates having all six lanes of the bridge open by the spring of 2008.