Gulfport Casino Comes Ashore

Gulfport will get its first land-based casino thanks to a March 16th site plan approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Gulfside Casino Partnership, which bought Harrah’s Entertainment’s properties in the city, received the OK to put a casino inside the Oasis hotel by September 1st.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, casinos were not permitted on land and instead were moored on barges.

Gulfside is a private company that operated the Copa Casino near the larger Grand Casino Gulfport before Katrina destroyed most of the coast casinos August 29th. The $250 million investment to buy the property and build on it is financed by UBS and Merrill Lynch.

The company also plans to expand the casino by January 1st as well as develop the beachfront with boardwalk shops.

The Gaming Commission also granted time extensions to two other casino projects. Boomtown Casino and Bacaran Bay Casino, both in Biloxi, now have until January 2nd to proceed with their site plans.

“We didn’t feel like we could penalize anybody for coming back to ask for more time to get their house in order,” said Larry Gregory, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. “It’s been very difficult to work under these conditions.”