The doors to the Palace Casino opened today shortly before 10:30 a.m. and hundreds of people waiting at two entrances rushed inside for their first look at the new casino and restaurants.
General manager Keith Crosby and his staff, along with representatives from the Mississippi Gaming Commission and slot companies, worked through most or all of the night to prepare for the reopening.
“It's very beautiful,” said Shirley Lawson of Biloxi, who arrived with her husband, Bob.
“No smoking. That's good,” he said.
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The Palace in East Biloxi is the first casino in South Mississippi and one of the first in the country to voluntarily go smoke-free. A $1 million smoking lounge directly off the casino floor is the only place inside the resort where people can smoke. It has its own heating and cooling system, said Keith Crosby, Palace general manager.
Smoking also is permitted on the deck off the new Contact Sports bar and lounge, overlooking the swimming pool and the Back Bay.
Smokers put out their cigarettes in the parking garage before they entered the door posted with a sign that declared the Palace a non-smoking facility. Additional signs were posted inside.
Crosby led the Sun Herald on a tour of Phase 2 of a $50 million expansion and renovation. A new Grill and 24-hour Cafe with a bakery case full of pastries are open to the casino floor, next to the Buffet that opened in April. Next to them is Contact Sports with 40 televisions and a stage for weekend entertainment.
The interior is contemporary and Crosby said, “I told you that you'd be surprised."
Read more in Wednesday's Sun Herald.