Diamondhead casino project reapplies for approval

Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 at 7:08 PM CST
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D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - A Diamondhead casino project, first pitched in 2008 and rejected by the Mississippi Gaming Commission in 2014, has resurfaced.

Jacobs Entertainment went before the commission at a hearing in D'Iberville to reapply for approval.

Executives from the Colorado based company want to rekindle interest their casino resort proposal in Diamondhead. The $150 million project targets 70 acres on the south side of the interstate west of the old yacht club.

When the site was rejected in 2014, commissioners said it did not meet the requirements of being within 800 feet of the Bay of St. Louis. Experts at Monday's argued that it's legal. Jacobs Entertainment believes science - and the law - are on their side.

"The experts say it is, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Marine Resources. The guy who drew the maps and the Secretary of State who wrote the book all say that is the bay. It's the high tide water line, it's a legal site," said David Grunenwald with Jacobs Entertainment

Diamondhead is a largely residential area with homes north and south of I-10. Residents on the south side think the casino would disrupt the character of the area.

"We as homeowners are facing a gigantic corporation with unlimited resources to push through their vision for Diamondhead, Mississippi. It will destroy the south side as a residential community," said resident Gordon Walker.

Many elected officials think a casino in Diamondhead could be an economic engine for the city and Hancock County.

"We believe that the most important thing is to push investment, education and infrastructure. We know education is a big issue around the state so we would like to see that revenue help grow what we see is important to our community," according to Hancock County Supervisor Blaine LaFontaine.

The Gaming Commission will now weight the evidence and come to a conclusion in the next few months.

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