Ala. woman has been casino player since 1994 opening

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Ninety-five-year-old Viola Parnell of Alabama has been coming to the Silver Star Casino since it opened in 1994.

The Silver Star re-opened Friday at noon after closing in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And it was certainly a welcomed development for Parnell’s Alabama group, who was waiting outside for the doors for  at least an hour before.

“I have been coming here since the day they first opened,” said Parnell. “Yes, I have missed it. All there was to do was to stay at home.

“Before my husband died, we used to come about every other weekend. We would get here on Friday and stay until Sunday. Then we would go home because we worked.”

Viola said she likes to play the dollar slots. She was accompanied by Jack and Sue Johnston of Ragland, Ala., who give Viola a ride.

“They know her here on first name basis,” Jack said.

“They are my running buddies,” Viola said. “I am not supposed to drive anymore and they are my chauffeurs.”

The Silver Star is owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Getting the Silver Star and earlier the Golden Moon casino re-opened was certainly good economic news for Neshoba County. In July, Neshoba County’s unemployment rate stood at 16 percent. That is an increase by nearly 10 percent over the 6.4 unemployment rate in July 2019.

The Pearl River Resort employs around 2,500 people when it is up and going strong.

“We are thrilled to be entering the final phase of reopening and proud to welcome guests back to our flagship casino,” said William “Sonny” Johnson, president and CEO of Pearl River Resort in a press release.  “Our team is trained, prepared and eager to provide an outstanding gaming experience in a safe environment.”

According to the press release, the Casino will continue to follow rigorous cleaning and sanitation protocols and will implement the following:

• Guests are asked to adhere to social distancing protocols while waiting to enter.

• Thermal cameras will conduct automatic noninvasive temperature scans at all Guest and Associate entrances. Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to enter.

• Installing a top-of-the-line UV lighting technology system to filter and clean the air as it circulates throughout the casinos.

• Will utilize advanced UV technology on the handrails of the escalators and sky-bridge walkways to continuously disinfect as they rotate.

• Will utilize chip cleaning machines to clean and disinfect gaming chips at all table games.

• During designated times, sections of the gaming floor will be closed to allow for cleaning. Electrostatic spraying technology will be used to dispense the appropriate sanitizers and disinfectants in a spray mist to wrap around and evenly coat surfaces for a more complete clean.

• All Guests and Associates will be required to wear a mask or other face covering during their visit.

• Temporarily, smoking is only permitted in designated areas; Silver Star Convention Center and outside of the buildings.

Social distancing protocols are in place throughout the facility. Hand-sanitizing stations have been added at the entrances and throughout the facility. Some service offerings may be limited or unavailable to help maintain safe social distancing and health and safety guidelines.


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