Second developer appeals Gaming Commission’s denial of casino site

A day before the deadline, Diamondhead Real Estate on Wednesday joined RW Development in appealing the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s rejection of site their casino sites in South Mississippi.

Both sites were denied March 16 during a meeting in Biloxi.

Diamondhead Real Estate, whose parent company is Jacobs Entertainment, filed the appeal in Hancock County Circuit Court. Its site is in Diamondhead, west of Yacht Club Drive.

The appeal said the recommendation by Executive Director Allen Godfrey to deny site approval and the commission’s decision were not supported by any evidence.

“The commission simply accepted the recommendation without stating any evidence to deny the application, gave no reason or explanation, failed entirely to allow applicant to present its support for the application, failed to allow (the) applicant to present its support for the application, failed to allow the applicant to address the commission, either in its slot on the agenda or during public comment, and then immediately adjourned the meeting without allowing public comment,” the appeal says.

The commissioners left the March 16 meeting at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi without comment after the rulings.

Gaming commission votes to deny two casino applications

Attorney Michael Cavanaugh says the state Gaming Commission denied casino applications despite the evidence that the sites are legal.

John Fitzhugh

RW Development filed an appeal in Harrison County Circuit Court on March 30. Company owner Ray Wooldridge had applied to build a casino at U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue in Biloxi but has been turned down twice. The first time was in 2008.

The Jacobs site also has been rejected before, in 2014.

Biloxi attorney Michael Cavanaugh represented both developers and Biloxi attorney Gerald Blessey also represented RW Development before the Gaming Commission. The appeals in both cases say no evidence was submitted at the Feb. 16 hearing in D’Iberville to contradict the location of the mean high-water line, which the developers say shows these are legal sites. Both appeals also say the commissioners went into executive session, in violation of the Gaming Control Act and state open meeting laws.

Both appeals request written reports explaining why the executive director recommended denial and why the Gaming Commission voted to deny.

Mary Perez: 228-896-2354, @MaryPerezSH

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