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Our Travel to Biloxi, Mississipi – Notes from Diary

 February 22, 2022

By  BC Editorial Team

It’s time to give the new Biloxi a visit. There are 9 casinos in the immediate area: Island View Casino, Treasure Bay Casino, Beau Rivage, Hard Rock, Grand Casino, Isle of Capri, Palace Casino Resort, Boom Town, and Imperial Palace. If you are planning a trip to the area, DO NOT RELY ON GOOGLE MAPS…IT IS WRONG. They still have pre-hurricane information out there. If you need info, send me an email and I’ll be glad to help. If we had more time, there are more casinos within driving distance in Bay St. Louis. They have Hollywood Casino, Casino Magic, The Silver Slipper.

We flew into the Gulfport/Biloxi regional airport. The airport itself has recently been remodeled. As a matter of fact, it is one of the few airports left in the country that has designated smoking areas INSIDE of the secure area by the gates. The airport is serviced by all of the major rental car companies. One thing we did notice when making our plans was that the price of rental cars DROPPED as time got closer to our trip. We were able to secure a weekday rate of $23/day for a mid-sized car. A few weeks ago it was in the $40-$45 range.

Island View Casino

Our first stop is the Island View Casino which is about 15 minutes from the airport. The Island View is on the inland side of Highway 90 in Gulfport. After the hurricane, the laws that required casinos to be on the water were relaxed. I don’t know why that had that stupid law, to begin with so this is one of the good regulatory changes that has taken place. There were a couple of other casinos right here before Katrina, The Grand, and Copa Casino. They have been wiped off the map (except for Google Maps) and the only remnant is the 3-story concrete parking garage that just stands out there by itself on the south side of Highway 90.

There is plenty of parking around the perimeter of the Island View as well as a covered parking garage. The hotel has 560 rooms equipped with pillow-top mattresses, Free Wi-Fi, TVs, and refrigerators. The casino is a massive 83,000 SF single-story layout. It has a relatively small table game area with 47 tables; Craps, Blackjack, and a few novelty games. I would say that 95% of the gaming floor is consumed by their 2000 slot machines, primarily penny slots. They are on their own loyalty card system and free play is earned easily. If you are a golfer, then just by getting a player card you can get a discounted green fee at the neighboring Windance Golf Club.

They have a unique system for checking and claiming your comps. They have kiosks scattered throughout the floor and whenever you earn at least 20 points on your card, you can swipe your card at the kiosk and play a game that will give you bonus points and multipliers. A new player gets some free play just to start with. I got $10 just for signing up. There are probably a lot more features that this kiosk is able to perform that I just didn’t have time to explore. There is a high limit area in the center of the casino where there are $5, $10, $25, $100 3-reel slots.

In the rear, there are about 20 video poker machines and there is view poker at the 3 different bars. Other than that, it is penny slot heaven. The place is very clean and spacious. The buffet is very reasonably priced and has a good selection of southern-style cooking…and sweet iced tea! You can only get that in the south. They do have an Emeril Lagasse Gulf Coast Fish House restaurant on location. We’ll check that out the next time we come back because we will be back. Overall our experience at the Island View was very enjoyable and we received a good amount of play for our entertainment dollar. The machines seemed to have reasonable paybacks.

Treasure Bay Hotel & Casino

Next, we’ll drive east along Highway 90 with the Gulf of Mexico to our right. About 5 miles up the road midway between Gulfport and Biloxi, we find Treasure Bay on the north side of the road. I remember Treasure Bay from before the hurricane. It was on the south side and the theme was that of a ‘want-to-be’ Treasure Island with the whole pirate ship thing working throughout. Now that it has been re-built on the north side of the highway, they have dropped the whole pirate ship theme and now the decor kind of reminds me of something out of the ’70s.

They bill themselves as the place that locals come to play and that may be true because there sure weren’t a lot of tourists there. The place was relatively empty compared to the Island View. Their gimmick to get people to sign up for their player card is to guarantee that players can not lose up to their first $100. The keywords are “UP TO” because most only end up with $10 cashback. We looked around and weren’t impressed with what we saw. Just a lot of the same old tired machines. Just another casino. We have bigger fish to fry, so on to Biloxi. We try any live dealer casinos from this site and go away. 

Beau Rivage

THE BEAU is the primer gambling mecca in the Biloxi area and this is where we chose to stay for our visit. It is located on the south side of Highway 90 right at the end of the final I-110 exit, so they have by far the best location in the area. We had comparable offers from some of the other casinos, but comparing apples to apples we felt that “The Beau” gave us the best-centralized location and came highly recommended in terms of amenities and overall comfort. Valet parking is available as well as a multi-story self-parking garage. The minute you walk into the lobby to are surrounded by luxury. High-end shops line the corridors that connect the parking garage to the lobby and casino. Check-in is painless but is warned…they do not guarantee the room type that you request. We requested a king bed and ended up with 2 queens.

The room was very musty and the mattresses sagged so bad that we had to call down to complain. Their solution was to put some ‘egg-crate’ foam under that mattress which helped a little, but that’s about all. Knowing that the hotel had to be renovated after the hurricane, I wondered if I was sleeping on a renovated mattress! Then we turned on the flat-screen TV and the picture was fuzzy and the sound quality was tinny and there were no premium channels available. Overall I was very disappointed with the room, but we’re not here for the room…we’re here to gamble.

The Beau Rivage is part of the MGM family of casinos which includes MGM Grand, Aria, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, and Excalibur in Las Vegas along with Gold Strike in Tunica and MGM Grand in Detriot. Although the points that you accumulate are not directly transferable from casino to casino as they are with the Harrah’s player card, don’t be surprised if you see offers from the other properties even if you have never visited them.

What I’ve found is that the MGM tracking system is designed to get you back for subsequent visits, but not to reward you for your play during your current visit. The lines at the player card booth are constantly long because people are up there arguing to get a few buffets comped. The comp system on site is very poor. No self-serve kiosks, just too much waiting in line just to be told that you haven’t quite earned enough points and never getting a straight answer on how much is enough. Now, if you’re all about free play mailers and not the meals or other comps, then maybe this is the system that works best for you.

The casino is a bit larger than the Island View. THE BEAU has 2,500+ machines, 85 tables games, a high limit area, and a poker room. The slot floor also has a non-smoking area in the back that I have mixed emotions about. There are certain games that are available in the non-smoking area that are not duplicated in the majority of the casino. I think these non-smoking areas create more problems than they solve. Smoking, drinking, and gambling all go together so if you can’t deal with it then maybe you should be attending a church group meeting instead, but that’s enough of my soapbox.

The one cool thing that they do have here that I haven’t seen elsewhere is their FIRE JACKPOTS. If you are using your player card, in most of the machines you are eligible for a random jackpot at one of three levels. Level 1 is guaranteed to hit at $1,000, Level 2 at $10,000 and Level 3 at $200,000. Pretty cool! The table game denominations are the typical $10 on the weekends and $5 during the week. There is a good mixture of slots in various denominations, but I would not say that THE BEAU is where you want to go to find the latest & greatest games. They look like they are about 6 to 12 months behind the curve. Overall the play I received was fair and the machines were not overly tight. I wouldn’t mind coming back to THE BEAU, but next time I will hang my coat somewhere else.

BC Editorial Team


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