Copa Employees Prepare For Re-Opening

On the eve of the Copa Casino's re-entry into the casino world, play money was being tossed around its new blackjack, poker and craps tables.

The real casino action starts Thursday night. And Ann Rusher can't wait. "We've waited nine years, nine long years," the original Copa Casino employee said. "We've grown into this. And we're ready."

As Rusher walked past a row of blackjack tables, fellow employees pretended to be gamblers. They had a lot more room than the Copa's old cruise ship had. Rusher said leaving the ship for a more spacious barge would tak some getting used to. "We're nostalgic. Everybody is taking pictures of the old place, getting the old groups together," said Rusher. "But everybody is excited."

Tamara Breland said she felt the excitement the moment she first entered her company's new complex. She said, "I was like oh my gosh, is this the Copa."

At the dress rehearsal, workers placed bets just like customers would.  They helped train the 300 new employees who were hired specifically to staff the bigger barge.

Dorothy Riddell is one of the Copa's new employees. She's an ambassador at the player's club booth. "I'm a little nervous right now because it's new to me," Riddell admitted. "There are a lot of questions that people are going to ask. So I'm hoping I'll get a lot of help."

Copa executives said help shouldn't be a problem. Afterall, every employee is in the same boat. They're all adjusting to casino life on a barge rather than a ship.

In case you forgot, the Copa Casino's new facility is the same barge that used to be docked in D'Iberville, next to the I-110 bridge. Copa Casino owners bought the barge last year, moved it to the Port of Gulfport, and remodeled it.