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Jimmy Appears Before Mississippi Gaming Board

May 17th, 2012


The Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi opens next week and Jimmy Buffett was in Jackson today to meet with the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

[See video below]

The popular singer met a Mississippi Gaming Commission requirement to appear before the panel before the casino’s VIP celebration at 5 p.m. and public grand opening at 8.

“Nothing like good timing!” Buffett told commissioners meeting this morning at their North Street office. “It’s always a pleasure to come home, and a double pleasure to get certified, because we open next week.”

The casino, to employ almost 1,000, will be located on Biloxi’s Back Bay.

Commissioners in March gave the casino their blessing, said Buffett’s business partner of 15 years, John Cohlan, but Buffett was required to make a personal appearance before the board as part of the certification. “Jimmy was on the road a month ago, and he couldn’t do it,” Cohlan explained.

But today, Buffett charmed all those at the meeting without singing the first note.
“I made my first professional dollar in Biloxi back in the 60s,” the Pascagoula native said. “I’m very proud to be coming back here.”

The $62 million project has been in the works since 2009, with the struggling economy playing a role in its slow progression.

But today, the project and the area of Biloxi it will invigorate are blooming. Biloxi’s Fifth Street, which will provide a tropical entryway to the casino, has been rebuilt. Trolleys will bring customers to the casino from a 900-vehicle parking lot.

“It’s touching,” Buffett said of the casino’s employment numbers. “It’s good to be an economic force on the Gulf Coast.”

It saddens him, Buffett said, to drive along U.S. 90 between New Orleans and Biloxi and see bare slabs where before Hurricane Katrina, buildings once stood.

“We certainly will be a catalyst in that area,” Buffett said. “We’re doing what we can.”

Cohlan told commissioners that Buffett “has opened my eyes to that part of the world.
“It’s safe to say that this is the most special thing we’ve ever done, from Jimmy’s perspective.”

The singer said he’s going to be “pretty involved” in his namesake casino, even though he says home is a wide swath “from upstate New York to the French West Indies.

“I’m always in and out of New Orleans,” he said. “And, the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs is a pet project of mine. It’s a good excuse to come here and be home.”

Buffett said he’ll be there for the opening and promises a big party.
And yes, he will perform.

“I don’t know,” Buffett said when asked what he will sing. “I haven’t written the set list. But, I want a dance floor. It will be uptempo.”


Tagged in Business Empire, Casinos