Boonville casino opens to big crowds

Friday, December 7, 2001

BOONVILLE, Mo. -- The Isle of Capri casino officially opened Thursday after state regulators gave their approval to the Caribbean-themed floating casino.

The Isle of Capri, a $75 million boat-in-a-moat, opened to customers at 2 p.m. and was nearing its capacity crowd of about 1,500 by 2:30, said Reginald Burt, manager of player development for Isle of Capri.

"We have a long line of people waiting to get in that seems to go around the building," Burt said.

The Missouri Gaming Commission staff earlier Thursday had approved gambling and liquor licenses for Isle of Capri, the state's 11th floating casino complex between the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas.

"I can say with all confidence for the people of Missouri that the Isle of Capri has been given the most thorough review possible," said Kevin Mullally, commission executive director.

With its shimmering neon and pastel colors transforming Boonville's drab riverfront, town leaders hope the casino will boost their economy also.

The license was approved after a mock gambling session Wednesday attended by state regulators and several hundred guests who used play money. The Gaming Commission had given general endorsement to Isle of Capri's suitability, but deferred to commission staffers about final licensing after the test.

River heritage

Isle of Capri's casino barge includes two fake black smokestacks, bulging sides representing paddlewheels and a $60,000 entranceway mural depicting Boonville's 19th-century riverfront.

But sentiment about the community's rich Missouri River heritage is supplanted inside the casino by Caribbean-themed "Isle Style" glitz -- from a two-story waterfall over artificial rocks to a buffet serving Oysters Rockefeller and filet mignon medallions.

"I know this is going to be a casino this community is going to be proud of," said Tom Carr, regional vice president of Isle of Capri, based in Biloxi, Miss.

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