Mississippi - The recent buyers of the Golden
Nugget have made a pitch to bring the casino brand
to Biloxi, Mississippi, in an effort to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged
Gulf Coast casino community.
Landry's Restaurants, which acquired the downtown and
Golden Nugget casinos in September for $345 million,
pitched a $400 million hotel-casino complex to the Biloxi
City Council this week.
waterfront attraction, dubbed Biloxi Boardwalk, would
include a Golden Nugget-style casino and would be on 18
acres north of Highway 90 in the Point Cadet area on Biloxi's
eastern edge. The land is near the destroyed Highway 90
bridge that connects Biloxi with Ocean Springs.
Katrina demolished 13 casinos along the Mississippi Gulf
Coast on August 29, nine of which were in Biloxi. Last
year, Gulf Coast casinos collected $1.2 billion in gaming
revenue and Mississippi is losing $500,000 a day in state
and local taxes while the gambling halls remain shuttered.
casinos, the Imperial
of Capri and the Palace,
have announced plans to reopen next month.
Landry's project is conceptual, however, because Isle
of Capri has the first option rights for the parcel, which
is partly owned by the city.
preliminary, but we absolutely love the Biloxi area and
the Gulf Coast and we want to help in the rebuilding,"
Jeff Cantwell, Landry's senior vice president of development,
was one of the main reasons we purchased the Golden Nugget
brand," Cantwell said. "We think this casino
concept would be a natural fit with the Biloxi market."
of Capri spokeswoman Jill Haynes said the company is focusing
on reopening its destroyed Biloxi casino by New Year's
and hasn't explored developing the parcel.
the hurricane, Mississippi lawmakers changed gaming regulations
to allow the Gulf Coast casinos to rebuild off water and
on land 800 feet from the shore. Isle of Capri is converting
its convention area into a 35,000-square-foot temporary
casino while it plans a permanent land-based gambling
officials told city leaders its proposed project would
be similar to the company's amusement attractions in Houston
and Galveston, Texas. In addition to a 60,000 square-foot
Golden Nugget casino, the company proposed 600 hotel rooms
and a marina for 100 boats. Also, Landry's said it would
build a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel, thrill rides, an aquarium
think Biloxi is going to come back bigger and better,"
Cantwell said. "We had some discussions with the
mayor and local officials, and they wanted us to make
a presentation to the city council."
which operates 300 restaurants operating under 28 brands
in 36 states, lost one of its signature Landry's restaurants
in Biloxi along Highway 90 to the hurricane.
said the company has a $400 million credit line that would
enable the casino development in Biloxi.
Mayor A.J. Holloway told the Biloxi Sun-Herald that he
expects Isle of Capri to also bid on the land.
be negotiating with them at the same time we'll be negotiating
with Golden Nugget," Holloway said.
Hurricane Katrina, the 10 acres of city land was used
as a farmers' market, parking lot and seafood museum.
The rest of the parcel is owned privately by residents
and businesses. Almost all the homes on Point Cadet, an
older residential community, were destroyed by the hurricane.
Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos had considered building
a casino on the site earlier this year, but passed on
Bank gaming analyst Marc Falcone said he expects other
gaming companies to explore opportunities in the Gulf
Coast. Several of the previous Mississippi casino operators
have not made commitments to rebuild.
anticipate that this pitch could be the first of many
potential new proposals to enter the Biloxi-Gulfport market,"
Falcone said in a note to investors. "However, it
remains uncertain how many of these projects will proceed.
The final competitive environment, area reconstruction,
and demand remains uncertain."
buying the two Golden Nuggets, Landry's has been remodeling
portions of the 1,900-room downtown casino, adding two
of its signature restaurants, Vic and Anthony's and Grotto.
At the 300-room Golden Nugget Laughlin, Landry's is adding
two restaurants, Joe's Crab Shack and Saltgrass Steak
House, and a second hotel tower.
believe that expanding the Golden Nugget footprint beyond
Southern Nevada was part of Landry's initial strategy
when it acquired the brand," Falcone said.