Broadwater Will Say Goodbye To President - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/23/05

Broadwater Will Say Goodbye To President

Through the Wednesday fog, Roy Anderson saw a President Casino barge that he really didn't want.

"It's a nice structure," the future owner of the Broadwater property said. "But overall aesthetically, it's not going to fit into our master plan."

At about the time Anderson's Broadwater ownership group decided to get rid of the casino barge, Silver Slipper general manager John Ferrucci contacted him.

"This President barge as it sits right now doesn't figure into their long term plans. But it fits perfectly with ours," Ferrucci said.

The Silver Slipper executive wants a barge and not a riverboat to be the centerpiece of the Hancock County resort he's developing.

"Once the Broadwater properties group closes on the big property, we'll be basically at the same settlement table, purchasing just the casino asset from them," said Ferrucci.

The deal should go through April 15. By then, Ferrucci expects Silver Slipper to have its gaming license, so it can keep the Biloxi casino afloat through the summer.

"We will operate it as the President until possibly the end of the year," he said.

At that time, Silver Slipper will tow the casino from Biloxi to Waveland. And the Broadwater Marina will be without a casino for the first time since 1992.

"I think it's a win-win for both companies. At the end of the day, I think it's a win for the employees," said Anderson.

Here's how Anderson believes the employees win. Once the deal is finalized, Ferrucci will keep the President open, and use as many of its 680 employees as possible.

This fall, when the move to Hancock County is about to begin, Anderson has asked his Hard Rock management team to give special consideration to any applications from President workers.

Anderson's Hard Rock Biloxi project opens in September, about two months before the Broadwater property says goodbye to the President Casino and its barge.

"I think long term this is the right thing for the property," Anderson said.

His group is spending $82 million to buy the Broadwater out of bankruptcy. It's already hired a Fort Lauderdale firm to design a master plan for the 240 acre property.

A single story casino will likely be part of that design. But Anderson says it won't be built for about two years.

When the Broadwater loses the President, south Mississippi will lose its sixth casino. Lady Luck closed in 1998. The Biloxi Belle and Gold Shore closed three years earlier. Ironically, the Gold Shore barge is what the President now uses.

The site where it's moving hasn't fared much better. Bayou Caddy's Jubilee Casino closed in 1995. And the Jubilation shut down less than a year later.

by Brad Kessie

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