Mayor: Company may bring new casino

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 1999

An unnamed company has expressed &uot;genuine interest&uot; in building another dockside casino and hotel development in Natchez, said Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown on Tuesday.

The group, which the mayor declined to name, would build the casino at the base of a rebuilt Roth’s Hill Road and the hotel across Canal Street from the planned convention center.

The company has never been involved in the gaming industry before, Brown said.

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The city will require the company to pay &uot;a lot of money&uot; to secure the option on the property, Brown said, adding he hopes that money – he declined to name the amount – will insure the investors’ serious interest.

&uot;If they don’t follow through with the option they lose the money,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ve got infrastructure improvements to make and we’ve got infrastructure improvements to make.&uot;

One of those infrastructure improvements is rebuilding Roth’s Hill Road, which begins at the base of Main Street and has been closed for many years.

Brown said the company’s total investment would be $40 million for both the hotel and casino. The state gaming commission requires casino companies to match the gaming boat investment with a land-based investment.

The hotel could be up to 200 rooms, Brown said. The city has been looking for a hotel developer to locate adjacent to the convention center, which has an expected April 2001 completion date. The city owns the block on which the hotel would be built, between Canal and Broadway streets and Main and Franklin streets. The company would have the option on the property for six months.

Brown said the added gaming revenue would add to what the city’s departments are able to provide, and the additional visitors would also spend more money in the city.

&uot;We can do a lot of things with a couple million dollars a year,&uot; he said. &uot;And it’ll increase our visitor count – that’s the real money.&uot;

Brown said studies have shown Natchez could support about a $55 million casino market, and Lady Luck generates between $28 and 30 million a year.

Earlier this month, Biloxi-based Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. announced plans to buy Lady Luck Gaming Corp., including the Natchez dockside casino.