A May, 2007 news release about Biloxi's Ocean Club condominum says its developer "is in the process of gaining approval for its own onsite casino." But a WLOX News investigation quickly determined that the Ocean Club site doesn't qualify as a casino site, in part because that area isn't zoned for casinos.
Ocean Club sits between Treasure Bay and the old Broadwater resort. The property is owned by Drake Leddy. He's the chairman of a San Antonio, Texas race track.
Leddy's liason in Biloxi is Mike Boudreaux. On Monday, Boudreaux admitted the casino statement in the Ocean Club news release "isn't true. It's not only not a casino site, it probably never will be."
Boudreaux is the GCID executive who convinced Drake Leddy to build condominium towers on the north side of Biloxi's shoreline. Condominiums, Boudreaux emphasized, not casinos. "When you look here, it's a misnomer. It isn't going to be a casino site. It isn't one now," Boudreaux said.
Ocean Club is directly across the street from a half mile strip of sand. The first of three condo towers under construction is within 800 feet of the mean high tide. So in that respect, it meets Mississippi's on shore gaming requirement.
However, the area between Treasure Bay and the old Broadwater is not zoned for casinos. Plus, state law says if a casino doesn't own or lease waterfront property, it won't get gaming commission approval. And in this case, the property on the water's edge is beachfront. It's controlled by the county. So county leaders say it can't be developed.
On top of that, Mississippi Gaming Commission executive director Larry Gregory said he's "never heard" of Drake Leddy, the Ocean Club condo, or a plans for a casino in the condo tower.
And the city of Biloxi says permits for a project like this have never been requested.
A company called N5R Reality Advisors put out the statement. The top of it said it was "For Immediate Release". WLOX News called the spokesman listed on the statement. He said the the casino comment at the bottom of the fourth paragraph "came from the developer. That's why it was written in."
Boudreaux thinks Ocean Club's marketing firm may have heard generic talk about Biloxi casinos, and simply mixed up the message. "If it should become one, it's only because in the future, a lot of things have changed along the Mississippi coast. But it isn't on the books right now," he said.
Ocean Club's marketing executive wants WLOX News to talk with the condo developer Drake Leddy. N5R said he wasn't available Monday. But he should be in Biloxi on Friday. WLOX News has been told it would sit down with Mr. Leddy during that visit to find out why an onsite casino was mentioned in a news release about the Ocean Club condominium.