Progress At Three Mississippi Casinos

Three Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos recently announced developments in construction and expansion. IP Casino Resort in Biloxi recently began a hotel renovation. Across the Back Bay, Scarlet Pearl in D'Iberville is moving forward toward a December opening. And Silver Slipper Bay St. Louis (l.) debuted new hotel rooms and suites.

Construction crews are busy along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast at the IP Casino Resort and Spa and the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, both in Biloxi’s Back Bay, and the Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis.

IP Casino Resort and Spa, owned by Boyd Gaming, recently embarked on the second phase of its hotel makeover, which will be completed in January. The property’s 1,088 hotel rooms were updated last year. General Manager Duncan McKenzie said, “This time, it’s 54 of our suites. We’re spending about $2.5 million. Last year, we did more than 350 of our guest rooms and spent $7.5 million to $8 million to bring those rooms up to first class. They’ve all been refurbished in the last five years.

McKenzie noted, since Hurricane Katrina struck 10 years ago, coastal casinos have vastly improved. “We all came back much better after the storm. It has created a great tourism destination. I consider the casino business the anchor store of the tourism mall on the Gulf Coast,” he said, adding the status quo is not good enough to attract tourism. “We really need to put a great physical plant in front of people in order to compete properly. Our rooms and restaurants are constantly being upgraded. We’re doing it with our meeting rooms and theater.”

In D’Iberville, the contractor at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort said he hopes to turn over the building to its owners on October 1. The facility should be ready to open the first week of December, although its world-class miniature golf course may not open by then, said D’Iberville Community Development Director Hank Rogers.

Additionally, the Mississippi Gaming Commission recently said background checks indicated Scarlet Pearl representatives could move forward with plans for a December opening. Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey said, “In order to start ordering slot machines they’ve got to have a license.” He added commissioners will continue to work with Scarlet Pearl management leading up to opening the casino. Earlier Mayor Rusty Quave and the city council approved a tax-increment financing bond of up to $14 million.

And nine penthouse suites recently debuted at the new $20 million Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis, where the first 120 guest rooms opened in stages throughout the summer. General Manager John Ferrucci said construction from groundbreaking to the grand opening took three years, and the final cost was $2.3 million more than estimated. Full House Resorts Chairman Dan Lee said, “We spent an extra million on that top floor. It’s all about luxury and about giving people what they don’t have at home.”

Lee is particularly proud of the suites’ unique $5,000 Japanese toilets. The 650 to 1,300 square foot suites also feature soaking tubs that fill from above and faucets that change colors according to temperature.

With an on-site hotel, Ferrucci said, “We saw positive impact immediately. The buffet alone has already served over 200 tons of crab this year.” Room rates range from $99 to $129 per night.