The Mississippi coast’s 13th casino — and the first in the City of Long Beach — moved one step closer to becoming reality when the State Gaming Commission unanimously approved the proposed site of the new venture on Wednesday, the Sun Herald reports.
Part of the regulator’s criteria for site approval is that new casinos are no more than 800 feet from the mean waterline. Previously, Mississippi coast casinos were required to operate on piers or dockside locations, but the rules were changed in 2006 to bring them slightly inland in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
At a special meeting on Wednesday in Gulfport, the commission said the proposed site ticked all the boxes.
There has long been talk of bringing a casino to Long Beach — part of the Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan area — and local developer James Parrish, of Long Beach Harbor Resorts, has spent two years trying to do just that, but there are still many more boxes to tick.
Having secured site approval, Parrish must now prove he has financial backing to see the project to completion and produce plans showing it will meet several regulatory guidelines for new casinos.
These include at least a 40,000-square-foot casino floor, a 300 room hotel, and a fine dining restaurant. Another key guideline is that the proposed facility must offer “something unique” that will attract visitors and grow Mississippi’s casino and tourism sectors as a whole. Parrish has offered no word yet on what this extra special something will be.
“We’re delighted with the gaming commission approval of the site as a legal gaming site,” said Parrish in an official statement. “We look forward to moving to the next step, which is to secure funding for the project. We also look forward to working with the City of Long Beach on the architectural design of the project.”
Long Beach ‘Stagnant’
At a public hearing in November Long Beach Mayor George Bass said the city needed the casino and the tax revenues it will bring because its economy has tanked.
Bass told The Sun Herald after the meeting that residents complain because car taxes are among the highest in the state.
“They ask for drainage repairs, paving and more businesses to come into the city,” he added. “So much positive can come out of this. Long Beach is stagnant. We’re doing everything we can to survive.”