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Gulfport casino developers get site approval

Site approval for a proposed casino at the Gulfport Harbor now is in the name of Gulfport Gaming Development.

Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Gaming Commission, tells The Sun Herald the company went before the Mississippi Gaming Commission on Thursday in Jackson and was granted site approval.

The request for site approval was pulled off the agenda in July at the developers’ request.

Rotate Black held site approval on the site for several years, but was unable to get financing to build the resort.

Virginia attorney Robert Lubin and his casino partner, Kevin Preston, want to build a $140 million casino resort adjacent to the Coast Guard station south of Jones Park. They also are partners in Magnolia Bluffs Casino-Hotel in Natchez.

On June 7, the Gulfport City Council unanimously approved a 60-year lease with Gulfport Gaming Development for the 4.5 acres the city owns at the harbor. The casino developers also have leases with two private landholders, Marine Life and Misco Marine, on the combined 10-acre site at the harbor.

Under the lease with the city, the casino group is required to pay $80,000 a month in rent until the casino opens, then 6 percent of gross gambling revenue. The 60-year lease includes three renewal options of 10 years each.

Before construction can begin, the developers must show the Gaming Commission they have the financing in place to build a casino that meets the state requirements of at least 300 hotel rooms, a 40,000-square-foot or larger casino floor, a restaurant that can seat at least 200 people, a fine dining restaurant that seats 75 and parking for 500 cars — all on the 10 acres. They also must have something unique that will grow the local casino market.

“They need to bring an amenity that will drive economic growth and tourism,” Godfrey said.

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