Two Coast casinos go to Gaming Commission Thursday

Sun HeraldJune 23, 2014 

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDAn artist's rendering of the Scarlet Pearl shows the new casino that was given permission for construction in D'Iberville.

TIM ISBELL — SUN HERALD Buy Photo

The day D'Iberville officials have waited two decades to experience could come Thursday when developers of the Scarlet Pearl casino go to the Mississippi Gaming Commission seeking permission to proceed with construction.

Also during the 9 a.m. meeting in Jackson, the Gaming Commission will consider site approval for Jacobs Entertainment's proposed casino in Diamondhead.

Land Holdings I, developer of the $250 million Scarlet Pearl, missed a March 31 deadline to have financing in place. The company still must provide closing documents to the Gaming Commission before Thursday's meeting, said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Gaming Commission.

"They're supposed to have their financing and are ready to go," said D'Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave.

With 300 hotel rooms, an events center and an elaborate miniature golf course, the resort meets the investment requirements adopted by the Gaming Commission last year.

D'Iberville City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said the casino could be open in 15 months on the site east of Interstate 110.

The reception isn't so positive for Jacobs Entertainment's casino in Diamondhead. Resident Lisa Lowell submitted a petition with 226 signatures to the Gaming Commission opposing the development in the southwest quadrant of Interstate 10 and Yacht Club Drive.

"There's a large group of us that live on the south side and/or own property on the south side that don't want a casino literally in our backyard, right in the middle of the neighborhood," said Nicole Boisdore with Operation Veritas, a group that also opposes the casino.

This project is not affiliated with Diamondhead Casino Corporation that owns 400 acres east of Yacht Club Drive.

Earlier this month the Property Owner's Association -- which has eight new board members of 11 after Saturday's election -- voted 7-3 to approve an agreement with a subsidiary of the Colorado-based developer that would allow hotel and casino guests to use the Country Club amenities. Guests would have access to the golf course, restaurant, pool and marina for the same rates members pay. They also would receive preferred tee times and marina slips at discounted rates.

The POA received $10,000 up front and could get $100,000 annually if the project receives site approval from the Gaming Commission. If the casino is built, the POA would get 1 percent of casino revenue with a $300,000 minimum and $700,000 maximum. The agreement also allows the company an option to lease and eventually buy the land.

Jacobs has been trying to build a casino in South Mississippi since 2004, when it tried in D'Iberville. A Diamondhead casino has been in the works since 2008.

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