Gaming Commission eyes Jacobs Casino site
By Dwayne Bremer
Jun 24, 2014, 22:46
An artistís conception of Jacobs Entertainment Groupís design for a new casino at south Diamondhead. A judge will consider Thursday whether the companyís chosen site for the project is a legal location for a gaming facility in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission on Thursday is expected to decide if the Jacobs Entertainment property in South Diamondhead is a legal gaming site.
Jacobs has been planning a casino and resort in Diamondhead for several years.
Jacobs officials have said they want to construct a $150 million casino/resort on property the company owns in south Diamondhead.
The venture could potentially produce $2.6 million in annual taxes and employ up to 550 people, company officials said.
Jacobs owns property near Airport Drive and has obtained ownership in 34 of the 37 units of the former Harbor House property.
The property is just west of a restaurant named the Harbor House, but the restaurant is not part of the Jacobs project.
Last June, Jacobs asked the Diamondhead Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone about 40 units of property from residential to C-2 commercial.
Jacobs did not necessarily need the zoning change to apply with the Mississippi gaming commission; however, the gaming commission generally prefers that there is consistent zoning throughout a casino property, officials said.
The planning and zoning commission did not act on the request, but later in 2013, the Hancock County Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding resolution supporting the casino venture.
Diamondhead's city council has passed a resolution supporting a future casino in the city in general.
One of the biggest hurdles Jacobs faces in gaining initial approval is if the property meets state gaming regulations.
Under state law, land-based casinos must be within 800 feet of the mean high tide mark.
Jacobs' property is located adjacent to a bayou and marsh which are tributaries to the Bay of St. Louis.
If developers can start the 800 feet in the bayou, then the casino could potentially be built across the street on Airport Drive.
If the 800 feet begins in the Bay, then the casino would have to be much closer to land.
In a recent letter from the Department of Marine Resources to the gaming commission,
DMR Chief Jamie Miller said that his office believes that the boundaries of the Bay of St. Louis end at the marsh.
However, Miller said that the location of a shoreline is not necessarily consistent with the mean high water mark.
Thursday's hearing before the gaming commission is only to determine if the site is legal, officials said.
If the site is deemed legal, them Jacobs must then present a site plan to the city for approval before it can move forward.