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Mississippi Gaming Commission Approves a $250 million
 Isle of Capri Casino and a $400 million Foxwoods Resort
By Tom Wilemon, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jun. 16, 2006 - JACKSON -- The lands where Isle of Capri Casinos and Foxwoods Development Co. intend to build resorts are legal gambling sites, the Mississippi Gaming Commission ruled Thursday.

Isle of Capri plans a $250 million to $300 million development at the western end of Harrison County near Interstate 10. Foxwoods is budgeting $400 million or more that will be included in a billion-dollar-plus development on the Biloxi Broadwater property.

Tim Hinkley, the Isle's corporate president, said his company thinks putting a casino resort in DeLisle is a good idea because of hurricane demographics. The company plans to have the resort complete by December 2008. The resort's hotel tower, which will have a minimum of 500 rooms, will be visible to motorists on Interstate 10.

"This is going to be a different market that we're going to draw," he said. "A lot of people who used to live in New Orleans and down in that area have shifted. They're still living in Louisiana, but I think a lot of them are living on the North Shore. We're taking a look at all the business in Baton Rouge."

The Isle intends to build a 94,000-square-foot or larger casino that could generate annual gambling taxes of $13.5 million to the state and $6.6 million to Harrison County. It would employ 1,500 and provide a $40 million annual payroll.

The casino would be the first to open in unincorporated Harrison County. State Rep. Diane Peranich, D-DeLisle, said the Isle will provide badly needed money to a hurricane-ravaged area.

"These gentlemen are going to a Level 5 Blue Ribbon school with no tax base that has lost seven teachers," she said.

Gary Armentrout, chief development officer of Foxwoods, said his project plans for a Biloxi resort are still in the early design phases. However, he committed that the company, which is owned by the Manshantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, will operate "understanding that we will be subject to all the rules and regulations of the state of Mississippi as well as all the taxes of Mississippi."

The tribe's Foxwoods resort on tribal lands in Connecticut is the world's largest casino and hotel. The tribe formed a private company to expand its franchise into the open market.

Foxwoods is acquiring about 16 acres from Roy Anderson III and W.C. "Cotton" Fore to put the resort at the site of the old Broadwater Hotel. The city of Biloxi has given its blessing to Anderson and Fore for a billion-dollar-plus development on 266 acres.

Anderson said the development will have a marina, condominiums and an entertainment venue on the south side of U.S. 90. On the north side, there will be a retail center behind the casino, condominiums, a championship golf course and villas around the links.

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Hard Rock opening

Hard Rock Biloxi is aiming for a July 4, 2007, opening, according to Roy Anderson III. Demolition work on the casino's gambling barge began two weeks ago and should be complete by mid-July. More than 300 concrete pilings will then be driven into the water to secure a new casino. Anderson is a major shareholder in Premier Entertainment, the casino's parent company. His construction company, Roy Anderson Corp., built the resort.

TOM WILEMON

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

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