Isle set standard for casino industry in Biloxi

Here is the prepared text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s remarks on the 15th anniversary of the Isle of Capri in Biloxi, delivered Aug. 1, 2007 during a ceremony at the Isle of Capri Casino Resort in Biloxi.

It was 16 years ago – a year before the Isle opened its doors – when a study was done here locally to determine the projected impact of dockside gambling on the Gulf Coast.

They said that if gambling was legalized that the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast – from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula – could support three paddlewheelers and the industry would employ about 3,000 people.

Boy, did they get that one wrong.

Today, this industry employs 17,000 people – that’s 2,000 more than before Katrina and more than five times more than the 3,000 predicted years go.

And we don’t have paddlewheelers. Nor do we have casinos. We have casino resorts. We have a multi-billion-dollar industry.

In the past 15 years, this industry has generated more than 800 million dollars in direct revenue to the state, and more than 320 million that’s been shared locally by the city, county and local public schools.

Some people will tell you that our economy here in Biloxi and on the Gulf Coast didn’t fully recover from Hurricane Camille until more than 20 years later, when we legalized gaming.

And I hate to think where we would be today in this post-Katrina world, were it not for the revenue and jobs created by this industry.

All of that brings us to the Isle of Capri, which launched legalized gambling in Biloxi, in Mississippi and in the South.

The Isle did indeed come in with two paddlewheelers, and in true Gulf Coast style, they arrived with a parade – a parade of boats.

People were lined up from right here where we are to the highway that day to get in the doors.

And in my opinion one of the reasons that this industry grew the way it did – and is success as it is today – is because of the standards that the Isle established from even before Day 1.

The Isle management has run a first-class operation on the business side, and, more importantly, they set the example as a model corporate citizen.

They let their actions speak by supporting a host of community groups and worthwhile causes.

Today, I want to congratulate the management and staff, the 850 employees of the Isle of Capri for helping Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast be the great places that they are.

I wish you many more years of success.

God bless the Isle of Capri management and staff, and God bless Biloxi.