Casino reopens in Gulfport on Monday

Published 11:50 pm Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Island View Casino opens Monday on the former site of the Grand Casino as gambling returns to Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina.

The casino has been using an aggressive marketing campaign to make gamblers aware of the opening.

“The local people always took care of us,” said Rick Carter, one of the casino’s owners. “We’ll never forget where we came from.”

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Carter and partner Terry Green, both Gulfport natives, started out in the business with an old cruise ship, the Copa Casino. They later replaced it with a gambling barge that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

After the storm, they bought out their bigger competitor from Harrah’s Entertainment, then secured a quarter-billion dollars in financing to develop the property.

The colors inside are muted browns, greens and autumn tones. It has a 24-hour, 350-seat buffet.

The gambling floor has 1,035 slots and 14 table games. The hotel has 562 rooms, including 24 suites.

Meng Chai, project manager for contractor Roy Anderson Corp., said it’s been a challenging job to transform a hotel into a full-fledged casino within a short time. The work isn’t done yet.

Next spring, the gambling floor will be more than doubled from 30,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet. Then the casino will have 2,400 slots, 50 table games, a fine dining restaurant, a casual eatery and two lounges.

David Schaf, project designer with the Friedmutter Group, said his goal was to use soothing colors to give the casino resort a residential feel.

Green said the casino has more than 1,000 employees, which is 200 above what it originally projected. Next spring, that number will rise to 1,500, he said.