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Unable to reach deal with Bally, Grand Station Casino closes

VICKSBURG — Grand Station Casino has closed in Vicksburg, affecting 230 employees.

The Vicksburg Post reports casino officials began escorting employees from the casino about 11 a.m. yesterday and security guards turned prospective gamblers away.

Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield says the city would work with companies interested in acquiring the casino.

The action came after Bally Gaming Inc. told the casino owners that it wanted to see some money or it would go ahead with a foreclosure auction on April 17.

A foreclosure sale had been scheduled for Monday but was canceled when Bally’s and Delta Investments and Development, the owner of Grand Station Casino, agreed to more talks.

Bally’s said it is owed $3 million given Delta to buy new equipment and make renovations to the downtown Vicksburg casino.

“This has a half million dollar negative impact on our city,” Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield said yesterday. “We were hoping that the parties involved could come to an agreement, but that could not happen.”

Winfield said the city would work with companies interested in acquiring the casino.

A deal to sell Grand Station Hotel to a development company headed by New Orleans real estate developer Kenneth W. Bickford was announced March 15. Terms were not disclosed. Bickford plans to convert the hotel into a luxury condo and marina resort. The hotel is a separate entity from the casino.

Winfield said he hoped Delta Investments might talk more with Bickford about chances of taking over the casino.

“We hope we can get the parties back to the table,” Winfield said. “This is a good property with a lot of potential.”

Delta’s license to operate the casino remains valid unless and until it receives an offer to buy out the remaining debt.

The casino’s fate is intertwined with the City of Vicksburg because of a lease dating to 1993 involving 2.95 acres of the public boat launch area at City Front. Under the agreement, the city was to receive about $562,940 a year plus 1.5 percent of the casino’s net revenues until Oct. 13, 2033.

Termination fees of $450,000 would kick in if the casino closed. The lease has been honored by each of the casino’s three operators since it was built, but current back payments run in the hundreds of thousands, Mayor Paul Winfield has said.

A deal to sell Grand Station Hotel to a development company headed by New Orleans real estate developer Kenneth W. Bickford was announced March 15. Terms were not disclosed. Bickford plans to convert the hotel into a luxury condo and marina resort.

Harrah’s sold the casino and hotel to Columbia Sussex, which renamed it Horizon. Tropicana Entertainment, which was part of Columbia Sussex, took over the former Horizon’s operations and tried unsuccessfully to sell the casino in 2007.

In 2010, Delta bought the casino for $3.25 million in cash plus liabilities, one of which is the lease with the city.

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