Casino Gambling

Vision revealed for Long Beach casino. Mayor says city is ‘stagnant’ and needs the tax revenue.

The first pictures of a proposed casino in Long Beach were revealed Thursday, but those for and against the resort will wait at least another month to learn if the old K-Mart property will become a legal casino site.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission voted 3-0 to table site approval requested by Long Beach Harbor Resort.

Chairman Al Hopkins said the commission has more to consider and investigate before deciding on site approval. Commissioner Jerry Griffith said it’s not unusual to delay site approval.

“It gives us the opportunity to review the casino proposal,” he said, “and make sure we are following the regulations to a T.”

The commission’s next meeting is Dec. 20 in Jackson.

The pictures show most of the resort north of U.S. 90 and east of Jeff Davis Avenue. The casino would be in the portion of the building closest to the highway, within 800 feet of the mean high water line, as required by state law.

The developers said the resort will meet the other guidelines of at least a 40,000-square-foot casino and 300 room hotel — built in a seven-story tower that meets the city’s height restrictions.

“These are renderings. These are not construction documents,” said Michael Cavanaugh for developer Jim Parrish and Long Beach Harbor Resort. He said the company has a contract to buy the site where K-Mart stood before Hurricane Katrina, contingent on getting casino site approval. Parrish also has a lease for the city-owned property south of U.S. 90.

In a special June 27, 2006 election, 55 percent of Long Beach voters favored a casino north of U.S. 90, across from the harbor. Thirty nine percent of eligible voters in the city cast their votes.

On Thursday, six people told the commission why they favored a casino in the tow — three were against and two said they were neutral.

Those who were against it said they were concerned about crime, traffic and property values.

“So much positive can come out of this,” Mayor George Bass said after the meeting. Long Beach is stagnant, he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to survive,” he said. Residents complain because of car taxes are among the highest in the state, he said. They ask for drainage repairs, paving and more businesses to come into the city.

He said Long Beach can’t draw more business because the city doesn’t have a four-lane road from Interstate 10. A casino would allow Beatline Road to become that access, he said, and also provide millions of dollars in revenue for Long Beach schools.

Site approval is just the first step to getting a casino through the Gaming Commission. If the site is approved, the developers typically spend years getting the plans and financing in place.