SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Construction projects, name changes and expansion plans. The casino business on the Mississippi gulf coast experienced all that and more this past year. The year 2013 was a time of significant change for the gaming industry.
Golden Nugget arrived in Biloxi during the summer of 2013. Within just a few months, construction was well underway to transform and improve the former Isle property, with new restaurants, retail and other amenities.
"Seeing it on film, doesn't quite do it justice. When you see it in person, it makes all the difference in the world," said Golden Nugget Marketing Vice President during an October interview.
"I think a little disruption goes a long way into the future to see exactly what this property is going to be. They get to see changes firsthand."
Island View casino resort in Gulfport announced a $50 million expansion plan. The resort aims to restore and re-open the 16 story hotel tower south of Highway 90.
"We're going out for some convention business, and it is needed. We've had quite a few calls already, we haven't had the facilities. We're going to be adding 400 rooms, and that's very important. That will put us just under 1,000 rooms," said owner Rick Carter, in early August.
Silver Slipper casino in Hancock County is adding a new hotel to its property. They hosted a September 20 ground breaking to kickoff the $18 million, 142 room project.
Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi continues construction on its $33 million hotel tower, which will add 154 rooms and create about 90 jobs.
Also late this year, news that Twin River Casino in Rhode Island wants to buy the Biloxi Hard Rock for $250 million.
"I don't think the workers have anything to worry about at all. Twin River loves this property. They love the performance of this property, and I think they want to continue to operate it very similarly to the way they've operated. I don't anticipate a lot of change," said Hard Rock manager, Duncan McKenzie, shortly after the news was announced.
Finally, Grand Casino Biloxi announced it is changing its name to Harrah's on the Gulf Coast.
In addition, the casino announced plans to remove the unfinished Margaritaville project and create a new boardwalk and entertainment lawn on that eyesore property.
There was also news this year about two new casino developments. Early this month, the state gaming commission approved the Scarlet Pearl casino project in D'Iberville.
This Monday, developers from Rotate Black will be asking for final approval of their Hemingway-themed casino project in Gulfport.