BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Thursday was a day that’s been two months in the making. With dozens of new safety protocols in place, cash is once again flowing through casinos in South Mississippi.
Whether they were in Biloxi, Waveland, Gulfport, or D’Iberville, thousands flocked to Coast casinos to celebrate their re-opening Thursday.
“It’s been a great day," said Ben Koff, Vice President of Marketing at the Scarlet Pearl. “The start that we have had between the casino floor, our outlets and our hotel keep up. I think it’s very good to say that the Gulf Coast is back in action.”
Scarlet Pearl’s CEO LuAnn Pappas was blown away by what she witnessed on the re-opening day.
“It was an exhilarating feeling. I don’t even have enough adjectives to describe how good it felt," said Pappas
Guest Brian Waystack was eager to get back in the casino and felt at ease with the new protocols that are now in place.
“Right now, the crowd sizes seem to be great. They have so many safety protocols in place. I, at this point, have no concerns whatsoever," said Waystack. "This is probably safer than any grocery store you go to.”
Palace Resort General manager Keith Crosby applauded casino workers for making this return possible.
“It is just the manifestation of all the hard work and everything getting back to normal," said Crosby.
Palace attendees on Thursday didn’t have to wait long to find a reason to celebrate the return to normalcy.
“Forty-five minutes after we opened we had a 90,000 dollar jackpot," said Crosby. "Everybody in here cheered at the same time, I think for the same reason, it was you know what, we’re back!”
The Gautier woman who won the jackpot was playing a Dollar Storm slot machine when she hit big.
Golden Nugget General Manager Chett Harrison heard a few cheers himself. He even noticed people taking it upon themselves to stay safe and socially distant inside.
“People know now to keep their distance," said Harrison. “I don’t think you have to tell them, even though we have the distancing dots down to help them. They’re helping us do what we thought would be the most difficult part of all this.”
Not all Coast casinos reopened on Thursday. The Beau Rivage Resort is slated to open June 1.