Gulfport Casino Hanging in the Balance

We have recently been talking about the prospect of casino legislation being passed in all parts of the country, but Mississippi has quietly flown under the radar. Today, the state’s gaming commission will decide whether two proposed gaming sites exist within the realm of state law. Those two sites are hopefully going to be located in both Biloxi and Diamondhead.

While this looks like a situation that is positive for everyone involved, the mayo of Gulfport—located within close proximity to Biloxi—recently wrote a letter that made it very clear he has no interest in casino gambling staking claim in the area.

Casino Opposition Persists

Gulfport’s Mayor, Billy Hewes, said that one of his main reasons for opposing even one gambling site is that it would inevitably attract more, unwanted casino development. Fearing that relaxing beach towns located on the Gulf of Mexico would become hectic cities marred by the negative sides of the gambling world.

Because of the way the law is written, the gaming commission of Mississippi, quite frankly, does not care about what Mr. Hewes has to say about the plans. Instead, they are solely deciding whether or not the proposed casino locations are located close enough to the water. Under state law, casinos must see their property extend to the mean high water line or, in other words, the shore.

Right now, the site in Biloxi is already coming under question because there is a sandy beach separating the end of the property from the water. Developers argue that, before the beach was constructed, a seawall existed at the end of the property, and that that seawall should still be used to determine the water line. Naturally, this is one of the items that the gaming commission will have to decide upon.

The proposed location in Diamondhead is facing similar hurdles to the Biloxi site, only their’s might be a bit more trying. Being that there is no seawall or beach located at the end of the property, this may be an issue. The developers, however, say that the finished project will sit within 800 feet of the Bay of St. Louis and, thus, will be in compliance with state law.

A representative from Jacobs Entertainment, which is the company working on the Diamondhead casino, said that “The experts say it is, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Marine Resources. The guy who drew the maps and the Secretary of State who wrote the book all say that is the bay. It’s the high tide water line, it’s a legal site.”

Representative from the gaming commission have already, in so many words, disputed what developers claim. They say that the water line is where the water meets the sand, and that this cannot and should not be interpreted any differently. Of course, we will soon find out what the fate of Mississippi’s next two casinos will be.