Bay St. Louis casino & resort green lit by Mississippi Gaming Commission

Jake Graves 1 year ago
Bay St. Louis casino & resort green lit by Mississippi Gaming Commission

A development on 6081 South Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis has been green lit by the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The project is being applicably name South Beach Casino & Resort, with the license being afforded to Kirk D. Ladner of Diamondhead and Russell Elliott of Bay St. Louis.

What hopes to be the 13th casino constructed in the Hancock and Harrison counties is set to feature a 40,000 square foot gaming floor with 1.1K slot machines, 25 table games and 6 poker tables according to the legally required notice published in a local newspaper.

The state gaming commission currently has only 2 commissioners in Tom Gresham and Francis Lee who both voted unanimously in favour of the proposed casino, Kent Nicaud, CEO of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport has been nominated to fill the vacant spot left by the death of Al Hopkins as chairperson, however this doesn’t seem to be an issue that will affect approval.

Details were not divulged on the true size and nature of the planned development above the gaming capabilities, but the application would have at the very least met the current requirements stipulated on all new casinos on the coast to achieve this, their first considered and approved project here. These include, 300 hotel rooms, no less that 40,000 square feet of casino space, a fine dining restaurant, and an unspecified amenity that is intended to offer something innovative enough to grow the local casino market.

Ladner is a Gulfport-based general contractor with, as far as can be read, minimal experience in the industry. Possibly due to running a separate business, Ladner and Elliot have run into a not uncommon problem before development can begin.

This is the issue of not yet being able to secure financing. An issue that has plagued this project for a good while. Ladner and Elliot failed to license their casino in the same place at the same time in 2004 and were unable to produce the proof of adequate funding and thus were denied.

There have been numerous casino projects that have failed to gain traction in this region, ever since the catastrophic natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina decimated the infrastructure in the region and brought light to the vulnerabilities of the low-lying areas on the Mississippi coast.

Bay St. Louis casino green-lit.
Biloxi, Mississippi coast.

Banks and other investment entities have been extremely reluctant to invest in any new projects in or around the Gulf due to the meteorological risks that would be attached. The issue has already significantly hindered over 20 casino developers dating back to 2005, who received site approvals but were unable to secure the funds to carry their casinos forward.

This could be seen in many ways as a painfully missed opportunity, as even despite the economically crippling Covid-19 pandemic, Mississippi’s gaming industry generated $2.7B in 2021. Proving there is a considerable market with fantastic possibilities for growth and expansion.

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