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Mississippi Casinos to Rebuild on Land

October 18, 2005

Mississippi Casinos to Rebuild on Land
October 18, 2005 – Major changes in the tourism industry along the Mississippi Gulf Coast could be in store after Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill into law that will allow casinos to be constructed on land. All 13 hotel-casinos on the Mississippi coast were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The new law will allow casinos located in certain areas to be constructed on land no more than 800 feet from the mean high-water line of certain bodies of water. The law differs significantly from the law previously in effect, which required that a casino at the company’s site be constructed in, on, or above water and be located a minimum of 50 percent below mean high tide.

Casino operators believe that the advent of land-based gaming in Mississippi will have a positive effect on the entire industry and change the whole perception of the gaming industry in Mississippi from that of a riverboat or barge-based industry, to that of a Las Vegas style or Atlantic City style industry.

"This bill is about more than gaming," Barbour said. "By signing this bill, the state is taking the necessary precautions to provide safety for the casinos and, in turn, is providing jobs for thousands of displaced Mississippi workers."

An article in USA Today stated that the old law requiring casinos on barges handicapped Mississippi casinos from the start, as the big gambling companies never could construct anything grand enough to rival Las Vegas, Atlantic City or even large reservation casinos.

Hurricane Katrina has given casinos a chance to rebuild as megaresorts – with more entertainment, shopping and dining options – perhaps turning the Mississippi coast into a national tourist destination.

"I think one of the more significant advantages of this disastrous, miserable event is the fact that you’re going to have much more exciting resorts developed that will attract more people," said Terry Lanni, chairman of MGM Mirage, which owns the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.

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