Proposed rule change could thwart Long Beach casino plans

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Several Long Beach leaders still see the day when a casino operates in their city.

"Absolutely," Alderman Gary Ponthieux said during a phone conversation with "Everything is there.  We're looking for a casino.  There is no doubt about that."

But suddenly, a proposed change to the Mississippi Gaming Commission's rules could derail any casino talk in Long Beach.

Commissioners are considering an amendment to Regulation II A, Section 3 (h).  That amendment would require future casino resorts to include "a 300 room, or larger hotel of at least a four star rating as defined by the current edition of the Forbes Travel Guide."

Right now, Mississippi doesn't have a four star property.  Neither does neighboring Alabama.

"It's kind of frustrating," Ponthieux said.  "It kind of just throws an area like Long Beach out of the box.  We can't put a four star hotel in Long Beach."

Ponthieux and other city leaders have drawn up a letter in opposition to the amendment. That letter will be debated at Tuesday's Long Beach Board of Aldermen meeting.

Alderman Ponthieux says he'll make it clear he wants the gaming commission to rethink its plan.

"We want something.  But yet, we can't build a Beau Rivage.  We can't build anything huge," the alderman of ward one said Friday.  "But we can bring a capital investment to our city, and taxes, and jobs."

The proposal under consideration also requires developers to build an amenity that will be unique to the market and will encourage economic development and promote tourism.

Long Beach leaders will debate the proposal on Tuesday night at 5:00.  The Mississippi Gaming Commission will hear public comments about the proposed amendment in March.

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