Seymour still willing to gamble on a D'Iberville casino

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Mark Seymour still dreams of opening a D'Iberville casino on the west side of the I-110 bridge.  He first came up with the concept in 1993.  But for a variety of reasons, his casino plans never came out of the ground.  First, they ran into environmental issues.  Then, funding for the development became a concern.

Tuesday night, D'Iberville's city council approved Seymour's latest proposal -- a land based casino, with a marina, a French Market, and 400 hotel rooms.  The project would cost about $200 million to build.  But Seymour estimates it can generate that much each year in revenue.

He believes, "It's the best site on the gulf coast."

Seymour has been saying that for 16 years -- since the engineer first realized waterfront property immediately west of I-110 could be developed into the Royal D'Iberville casino.

"I love it.  It almost took my life," he laughed.

You see, Seymour has suffered a heart attack, a stroke, and two mini strokes while fighting for this project.

"My family's tried to get me out for years, but I said I'm not quitting.  I never have quit anything I started," he boasted.

Because Seymour's as feisty as a Bulldog, the Mississippi State University alum battled environmentalist over this project.  He ended up paying $500,000 for an environmental impact statement, to prove his casino would be sensitive to the wetlands that surround this Back Bay property.  That report is included in a packet of information about the latest version of his Royal D'Iberville casino.  He considers the land next to I-110 "the best protected site for hurricanes."

On Tuesday, the D'Iberville City Council said yes to Seymour's concept of a land based casino adjacent to the Back Bay, a marina in the water, and 400 hotel rooms several hundred feet inland.

Deonne Olier heads up the city's planning department.

"We are the gateway to the coast.  And I think this is the one thing that D'Iberville has always hoped for," she said.

D'Iberville also has developers looking at sites east of I-110 for casinos.  But, Seymour is sold on his property immediately east of I-110.

"When this casino hits, they're going to be the richest city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," he said.

But when will it hit?  D'Iberville residents have been asking that question for nearly two decades.  Developers keep talking about casinos.  But nobody has opened one on the north side of the back bay.  Seymour says that will change with his project.  He say it may come out of the ground in less than six months.

"If they get this one," Seymour said, referring to D'Iberville's planning leaders, "it's going to help the city with all the other development."

Seymour is talking with an investor who may put up the $200 million it will take to build the Royal D'Iberville casino.  But he won't say who that investor is.

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