The Mississippi Gaming Commission rejected at a Thursday meeting two separate proposals for the construction of casinos in Biloxi and Diamondhead. Commission members explained their decision with the fact that the two projects did not have control over land on the two cities’ waterfront.
Despite the site rejection, it is believed that Diamondhead developer Jacobs Entertainment and Biloxi developer RW Development will not give up on the project that easily.
A Diamondhead casino proposal was rejected in 2014 and a Biloxi project was denied approval in 2008 for similar reasons. Here it is important to note that different commission members comprised the state’s gambling regulator at the time. Under Mississippi’s current laws, interested developers may be allowed to built gambling venues on shore. Said regulations were introduced in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, with the state being heavily damaged by the storm.
Developers of the proposed two casinos were clearly disappointed with their rejected efforts. It is yet unclear whether they would appeal the latest commission ruling. Yet, word has leaked that RW Development would appeal immediately. The three Mississippi gaming commissioners declined further comments on their decision.
The state’s casinos generated $2.1 billion in 2016, reflecting a 1.1% increase from the previous year.
There are several operational casinos in Biloxi and the region, so it is believed that competition concerns voiced by existing operators may have influenced commissioners’ decision. The Diamondhead project, on the other hand, called for the city’s first casino.
Developer Jacobs Entertainment was not the only party to have remained disappointed with the Thursday ruling. The casino proposal has long been supported by Diamondhead mayor Tommy Schafer. The city’s top official told media that the commission’s latest decision prevented the creation of a much-needed economic engine that could help Diamondhead and its residents by boosting its economy and budget with annual tax contributions.
Mayor Schafer also pointed out that the project did not even reach the stage when developers presented the casino’s design and facilities. A site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission is instrumental in order for any interested casino developer to be able to proceed with the formation of the project and its materialization.