Diamondhead Casino seeks site approval
By Dwayne Bremer
Jul 11, 2014, 20:14
The Diamondhead Casino Corporation (DCC) will appear in front of the Mississippi Gaming Commission soon, hoping to gain site approval for a future casino resort located on its property near Interstate 10.
DCC Chairman Ted Arneault said Thursday that his company believes the "time is right" for a casino in the area.
"I think the market is such that we can have a facility in that area that is not only a casino, but a tourism matrix for the area," Arneault said. "We anticipate going in front of the gaming commission in August, but they have a very busy schedule."
DCC is a different company than Jacobs Entertainment, which was denied site approval from the gaming commission last month.
DCC has been discussing the idea of a casino in the Diamondhead community for nearly two decades.
DCC owns about 400 acres of land about a mile east of Yacht Club Drive in Hancock County.
According to a recent legal notice, the company plans to construct a permanent structured, 80,000-square-foot casino which will contain about 1,250 slot machines and 40 table games.
According to state gaming regulations, companies wishing to develop a casino must go through several steps before obtaining a gaming license.
Site approval is the first step.
"We are taking a very basic first step," Arneault said. "Hopefully, everything will take form from there."
DCC's property is already zoned for casino development because the city pre-designated it when it approved its initial zoning maps after incorporation a few years ago.
Over the years, DCC has entered into several "letters of intent" with casino groups, including--most notably--a group controlled by mogul Donald Trump.
All of those deals have fallen through for various reasons and earlier this year, longtime chairman Deborah Vitale stepped down and handed the reigns to Arneault.
Arneault is the former chairman for MTR Gaming Group and has developed several casino projects during his career.
According to a press release issued in April, Arneault said the company's property provides a "unique opportunity" for development.
"I believe the Diamondhead site remains one of the last, great gaming opportunities in the country," he said in the release. "The site is recognized in the casino industry as one that is expected to grow the entire Gulf Coast market because of its sheer size and the numerous amenities it could support. I am looking forward to working with the state of Mississippi and the city of Diamondhead to create a destination resort that will bring economic benefits to the entire state as well as the city.
“This is a unique opportunity to be associated with a project that has the potential to become a major tourist attraction on the Gulf Coast and one of the premier resort locations in the casino industry."
Diamondhead city leaders have endorsed the idea of a casino, saying they believe it will bring revenue and jobs to the area.
Jacobs had sought site approval from the gaming commission last month, however, its plans were derailed because of a recent study by the Department of Marine Resources report regarding marshland and the start of the 800-feet mean high water mark.
DCC's property, however, does have some beach-front areas, including 50 acres on the far east corner, where it plans to build its casino.
The far-eastern portion of the property is located about 100 feet west of the Hancock/Harrison County line.