Golden Nugget plans "dramatic changes" for Isle in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Owners of the Isle in Biloxi announced Monday that the east Biloxi resort is being sold to the Golden Nugget. The price tag is $45 million.

Golden Nugget expects the deal to close sometime this summer.  In the meantime, the company is planning to invest about $150 million to transform the property into a premier resort destination.

The new casino will be called the Golden Nugget Biloxi. The company promises to start making some dramatic changes as soon as it takes over the Isle in Biloxi, possibly by the end of June.

"This property will be undergoing a lot of construction," said Doug Shipley, Vice-President and General Manager of the Isle in Biloxi.

The Isle docked in Biloxi 20 years ago, launching the gaming industry in South Mississippi. Shipley called the sale "exciting."

"I think it's going to be a phenomenal opportunity," said Shipley. "For the 750 team members, a lot of them that have been here for 20 years, it's been a great experience. It's been a long ride for them, and I truly and sincerely believe the best is yet to come for this property."

What's to come is about $150 million in expansions and renovations. The plans include building a new casino, and adding a convention center and a theatre for live entertainment. Expect to see new bars and lounges, a spa, and a large resort pool.

The Golden Nugget's parent company, Landry's, is known for its award-winning restaurants. It will replace the Isle eateries with its own brand-name restaurants like Chart House, Morton's Steakhouse, Grotto, and Lillie's Asian Cuisine and Noodle Bar.

Landry's owner Tilman Fertitta said, "We are excited to bring the Golden Nugget to Biloxi, and have plans to transform the property into a luxurious and exciting hotel and casino, with the highest level of service."

"I think it couldn't get better. It certainly is going to be a game changer in this market," said Shipley.

Biloxi's mayor agreed, saying he's proud of having the Golden Nugget name in Biloxi.

"I'm sure they're going to have a bigger operation than what the Isle has. I'm talking about more jobs, more tax coming in, more revenue for the city and the state and the county. It's an icon name," said Mayor A.J. Holloway.

It's a name, he said, that will change the face of gaming in east Biloxi.

"I have a feeling that this is going to create some activity in Biloxi, and it wouldn't surprise me if we didn't see a couple more casinos come in," said Holloway.

Golden Nugget said it expects to hire all 750 employees at the Isle and may add more positions once all the additions and renovations are finished sometime next year.

Just so you know, the Isle has been leasing the four-acre Point Cadet property from the city and the state. The Golden Nugget will take over that lease.

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