Players who aren’t winning at one slot machine move to another, and two companies whose casino-site approvals in Biloxi and Diamondhead were denied years ago will try their luck this week with three new members of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
The commissioners’ decision will be one of the defining rulings of 25 years of casinos in Mississippi. Approving these two casinos could change the rules and open many more South Mississippi sites to casinos. Denying site approval to one or both could mean the loss of hundreds of jobs and millions in economic development.
A public hearing for the two casino sites will follow the regular meeting of the Gaming Commission, which will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at D’Iberville City Hall.
A vote won’t be taken Thursday, said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The hearing is for the developers to show a footprint of the casinos they propose and argue points of site approval. It isn’t a time to hear about the economic benefits of either casino, he said, although there may be time for public comment at the end of the meeting.
When a vote is taken at the March meeting or a subsequent meeting, Godfrey will make his recommendation on site approval for both casinos. If he recommends denial, the vote of the commissioners must be unanimous for the site to be approved.
How we got here
The commission in 2008 turned down RW Development’s request to build a casino at U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue in Biloxi .
Jacobs Entertainment, a company based in Colorado, lost its bid for site approval on land west of Yacht Club Drive in Diamondhead in 2014.
Representatives of the two companies said at the time they would keep fighting. Both applicants could have appealed their decisions to a circuit court and the state Supreme Court but instead chose to wait until three new commissioners were in place and resubmitted their applications late in 2016.