Casino Gambling

Update: Poarch Creek Indians buy casino site in D'Iberville

SUN HERALD 
 An artist's sketch of the proposed Royal D'Iberville Casino, west of Interstate-110 in D'Iberville. Mark Seymour Sr. and Terry Moran weren't able to get the project built, but the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has purchased the site and could build a casino there.
SUN HERALD An artist's sketch of the proposed Royal D'Iberville Casino, west of Interstate-110 in D'Iberville. Mark Seymour Sr. and Terry Moran weren't able to get the project built, but the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has purchased the site and could build a casino there.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate three casinos in Alabama, have purchased the Royal D'Iberville casino site in D'Iberville.

The sale of the land immediately to the west of Interstate 110 closed Friday, according to Biloxi attorney Michael Cavanaugh.

In a statement, the Poarch Creek Indian Gaming Authority said, "PCI Gaming Authority monitors events throughout the Southeast that represent opportunities for our investment consideration. This particular property was brought to our attention and after evaluation we felt it represented an excellent investment opportunity that, regardless whether we pursue development now, in the future or never, that land will hold its value,"

The statement concluded, "We continue to evaluate development opportunities and the Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming market is one we may seek to enter at some future time."

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, according to their website, are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation and have lived together for almost 200 years in and around the reservation in Poarch, Ala. If the PCI Gaming Authority decides to build a casino at the D'Iberville site, it would pay casino tax required of all commercial casinos in Mississippi.

Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said for any Native American casino operator in the state that builds off the reservation, "We won't treat them any differently than any other applicant."

Poarch Creek Indian Gaming manages three Alabama casinos -- the Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Creek Casino Wetumpka and Creek Casino Montgomery -- along with poker games and race tracks in Gretna, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.

Scarlet Pearl Casino was the first casino resort to open in D'Iberville in December and the 12th in South Mississippi and Godfrey said, "We have a very strong gaming market on the Gulf Coast right now."

Mark Seymour Sr. and Terry Moran worked for years on their dream to build Royal D'Iberville Casino, fought challenges and had it declared a legal site. Seymour, who died in 2010 before the dream was realized, kept a rendering of the resort under glass on his desk.

"I think it's the best site in Mississippi," he told the Sun Herald.

Seymour and Moran planned a 60,000-square-foot casino with a 400-room hotel and a parking garage on the 7.6 acres. They envisioned an open-air French market underneath the casino with elevated shops and restaurants and a marina.

D'Iberville still plans to use a part of their vision and build a French Market downtown.

Mark Seymour Jr. said Tuesday, "My father, Mark M. Seymour Sr. and Terry Moran had a vision over 20 years ago. Their years of hard work and dedication to the project have turned their vision into reality in 2016. The leaders in the City of D'Iberville, primarily Mayor Rusty Quave and City Manager Bobby Eleuterius, have been instrumental in making this happen."

Quave said city officials look forward to working with the new owners of the property.

Plans for Royal D'Iberville were active for so many years, "It kept the hopes alive for the whole city," he said.

When the D'Iberville got its first casino after 20 years, Quave said, "Scarlet Pearl did not take away from gaming market -- it grew it for the first time since 2007."

The more amenities and family attractions that are added in South Mississippi will help the entire casino market, he said.

D'Iberville has four approved casino sites. In addition to Scarlet Pearl and Royal D'Iberville, casino executive Peter Simon has worked to develop a casino adjacent to the Royal D'Iberville site and Quave said a group recently considered financing a casino at the Oyster Bay site on the eastern boundary of D'Iberville.

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