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The wait is over: Casino opens to long line of customers

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Judy Nelson tries her luck on the Yahtzee slot machine Tuesday evening during the opening day of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

 

NATCHEZ — Magnolia Bluffs Casino had a full house Tuesday as it opened its doors for business for the first time.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez Mayor Butch Brown throws the die as he plays the first game of craps Tuesday evening, the opening day, at Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

A crowd of local officials, business people and patrons crowded outside the entrance to see Casino President Kevin Preston cut a gold ribbon to officially open the casino.

The casino’s opening has been a long time coming, Preston said.

“I want to thank those of you who have supported us through this process,” he said. “It’s been one of those things that today you can believe it’s really happening.”

Mayor Butch Brown rolled the first pair of dice on one of the casino’s craps table. Brown said he was impressed by the casino’s design, décor and staff.

“I have to give a tip of the hat to the people who built it,” he said. “It seems very pretty and functional.”

Hundreds of patrons lined up for hours, some since 9 a.m., outside the casino to try their hand at the games in Natchez’s second casino.

Several patrons said they came to the casino before it opened to get in line for the casino’s opening day promotion. Magnolia Bluffs offered free play and free T-shirts to patrons while supplies lasted.

The casino opened at 2 p.m. for a tour for invited guests. The casino was scheduled to open at 4 p.m., but the Mississippi Gaming Commission did not finish testing slot machines until 5 p.m. At 5:20, 556 people had entered the casino.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — People line up around the building as they wait Tuesday evening for the opening of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino. The casino was scheduled to open to the public at 4 p.m., but opened at 5 p.m. after the Mississippi Gaming Commission finished testing slot machines.

Lucinda Johnson and Esther Williams drove from Alexandria for the casino’s opening.

“We just really wanted to see the new casino,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Williams said they also frequent the Isle of Capri Casino and said they are happy there is now another casino.

Velma Stines and Bobbie Bland drove up from Woodville. Bland said she thinks a second casino will be good for the community and casino patrons.

“We need the competition,” she said.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, in whose ward the casino sits, said she was pleased about what the casino means to the local economy and workforce.

“It’s not just people from Natchez who are getting jobs,” she said. “I talked to a woman from Fayette who works here and another from

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Magnolia Bluffs Casino President Kevin Preston cuts the ribbon for the opening of the casino Tuesday afternoon with other casino and city officials.

Vicksburg who is from Natchez and coming back to work at the casino,” she said.

The 45,000-square-foot casino has 580 slot machines, 10 table games, a center bar with 27 poker games, a player’s club, Cypress Mill, which is an Italian steakhouse, a lounge named 180 Lounge and a buffet named Bandsaw Buffet.

An outdoor deck wraps around the sides and back of the casino and features a seating area and a fire pit.

Magnolia Bluffs is open 24 hours, and no one under the age of 21 is allowed in the casino.

The casino will host a grand opening ceremony with entertainment Jan. 17.