"Light, bright and airy" aren't words typically used to describe a casino, but that will change when the new $75 million Beach Casino addition at Island View Casino Resort opens by the end of June.
"Everywhere there's actually windows looking out," said Kathy Santiago, director of player relations and business development. Expanses of windows provide views to the portion of Island View on the north side of U.S. 90 and of the water looking out toward the Mississippi Sound.
Players will be able to sit at slot machines right next to a wall of windows that give a clear view down the beach. And the windows are treated to protect those inside from heat.
"The sunsets are really nice," Santiago said, and at night the atmosphere will come from LED lights on the pillars, as backlights on the walls and in the ceiling to change color and mood.
The groundbreaking for this second casino floor at Island View was a year ago in May 2017 and the addition built by Roy Anderson Corp. is part of the Beach Tower on the south side of U.S. 90.
The new casino floor, like the Beach Tower, is smoke-free. The smoke-free designation actually starts at the restaurants off the lobby on the north side, said Michael Bruffey, vice president and general counsel for Island View, and continues through the enclosed walkway over U.S. 90. Smoking is permitted at the north casino.
Promotions and experience will be the same at both casino floors, Santiago said.
Island View's slot department worked to get the right mix of new and existing equipment at both casinos, she said. The new casino has 900 slot machines, with 18 table games down the middle and an elevated stage at one end for live music.
"We have 43,000 square feet here," Santiago said. When combined with the casino space on the north side it totals 126,000 square feet — the largest casino floor in South Mississippi.
Four new food and beverage outlets come with the new casino. The Beach Grill in the Beach Tower is being rebranded and now is Prime Cut, a restaurant featuring prime rib, which will be open nightly at 5 p.m.
Also new are a coffee shop, the Daiquiri Bar that will provide frozen drinks on the casino floor, and Dockside Deli with seating indoors or on the dining deck that wraps around the corner of the building and overlooks the water, the swimming pool and the port.
The expansion adds 300 new jobs and the timing couldn't be better for a new casino as sports betting begins in Mississippi within weeks of the opening.
Bruffey said the area across from the Daiquiri Bar and near the tournament area of the new casino is the logical place for sports betting. Plans are still being developed, he said, but there will be a counter with TVs displaying odds once sports betting opens and kiosks throughout the property.
The parking garage on the beach side adds 2,000 spaces and like the north side, is equipped with chargers for electric cars. Escalators will take customers from the parking area and valet to the new hotel check in desk.
With this expansion, Rick Carter and Terry Green, friends since they grew up together in Gulfport, now have invested $400 million in Island View since they bought the casino in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.