D'Iberville casino misses deadline; Gulfport's deadline is Tuesday

March 31, 2014
By Mary Perez at Sun Herald

D'IBERVILLE -- Developers of the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D'Iberville were unable to meet the 5 p.m. deadline Monday to close on the financing for the $250 million resort.

Developers of Hemingway Casino at the Gulfport Harbor face a deadline at 5 p.m. today to complete their financing of a $112 million casino.

"It's a firm deadline," said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. "At this time, no extensions are being entertained."

D'Iberville has worked for more than 20 years to get a casino and City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said Monday, "I'm very, very disappointed."

He said the city remains ready to assist the developer in any way.

"The project brings a lot to the city," Eleuterius said. Along with the hundreds of jobs the casino would create, he said the developers intend to lease land from the school district.

Scarlet Pearl -- and Hemingway Resort if it misses today's deadline -- must go back through the entire review process with the Gaming Commission and meet the new, more stringent development requirements.

Scarlet Pearl may qualify under the new rules because it has the required 300 hotel rooms, along with an elaborate 36-hole miniature golf course, an event center and other amenities.

The Hemingway Casino in Gulfport doesn't have enough rooms under the new regulations. It is proposed as a 205-room luxury hotel rooms operated by Hemingway Hotel and Resorts and based on the life of author Ernest Hemingway. It also is 5,000 square feet short of the minimum of a 40,000-square-foot or larger casino.

When the Gaming Commission gave the developers permission to proceed in December, it was with the April 1 deadline to finalize financing and pay outstanding balances.

The Gaming Commission already held several special meeting for the two casinos, Godfrey said. With the deadline to build under the previous regulations set to expire Dec. 31, the Gaming Commission met Dec. 4 and gave Scarlet Pearl permission to proceed and a deadline for securing financing.

At that time, Gaming Commission Chairman John Hairston said he voted for the D'Iberville project because it had amenities and financial backing.

The Gaming Commission met in South Mississippi in February and extended the deadline for Scarlet Pearl because of bad weather in New York, where the financial markets are located.

Rotate Black and other developers got their approval to proceed during a special meeting Dec. 30 in Gulfport.

"This was their fifth time before us," said Godfrey. "They assured us they would have everything in order."

Godfrey said the ability to get financing to build casinos apparently is still challenging, "based on the fact that these projects have not come to fruition."

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