BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Reopening the old Margaritaville casino on the Biloxi back bay is one step closer to reality after it shut down in September of 2014.
With a unanimous vote, the gaming commission granted site approval for the old Margaritaville location. It’s an important first step for Biloxi House LLC, the company that has an agreement to buy the property and reopen it with an old Biloxi theme, spending some $200 million in the process.
“I feel at this point, me and my partner Chris Taylor are very excited at this point to get through this process," said Tom Moore, a partner in the company.
In order to open, an additional 15,000 square feet of gaming space will have to be added as well as a 300-room, 12-story hotel.
There’s also that unique amenity that has to be included. Moore addressed that.
“It will be an economic boom for tourism of course, but we would kind of like to put that at our next meeting," Moore said. When asked if it has something to do with cars, Moore responded. “It could be, it could be.”
A major obstacle is creating better access to the property. One of the main reasons the old casino failed was lack of that easy access, and Moore is working on that.
“It would be something that the city might have to work with us on, possibly including a different route there," he said.
Gaming commissioners agreed that is a top priority.
“I hope what happens there is the street situation improves, and I know the mayor and the city council are working on that, and that’s going to make a big difference," said chairman Al Hopkins.
Reopening a rebranded casino is still going to be months away because of the hotel that has to be built and the gaming space that has to be added. Still, nearby businesses in east Biloxi see this as a very positive sign.
“Well just basic construction is going to mean a spark to the economy, jobs, supplies, whatever. Possibly, you could get a contract to do some work for them. So I think it’s going to be good for the economy," said Keith Parker, owner of Biloxi Tent and Awning.
After almost five years of being shut down, a new casino could do just that.
The next step for Biloxi House will be to go before the Biloxi planning commission for construction plan approval. Then it’s back to the state gaming commission for similar approval. That should happen later this year.