Casino site is legal

Published 12:07 am Saturday, December 8, 2007

NATCHEZ — A casino on the Mississippi River must be at least partially in the water, but it doesn’t have to be a riverboat, a state gaming commission official said Friday.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, some new regulations allowed coastal casinos to locate within 800 feet of the water.

But along the Mississippi, a casino must still be on the water, Gaming Commission Deputy Director Allen Godfrey said.

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“They still have to be in the river,” Godfrey said. “That doesn’t mean it has to be floating in the river.”

Lane Company, a development group looking to locate a casino and riverfront development under Roth Hill, recently said they had plans to build a structure rather than bring in a boat.

Recently, more casinos have built structures on pilings in the river rather than bring in a riverboat to serve as a casino, Godfrey said.

“We’ve had a lot of variations,” he said. “The gaming must be over the river. But they can have the casino floor on the river, and the (other) structure could be on the bank.”

Lane has received a nod from the state commission, deeming the site a “legal site,” Godfrey said.

“(Now), they have to prove they have financial ability and where the money is coming from,” he said. “They have to get the project approved and provide a construction schedule. They have to provide proof that local agencies don’t have a problem with it, people such as the Corps of Engineers, (Mississippi Department of Transportation), anybody who might be involved.”

Lane still has to present plans of what the development would look like.

The company also must invest a 1-1 ratio in non-gaming projects. Typically, casinos choose projects such as golf courses, hotels, restaurants or entertainment centers, Godfrey said.

Representatives for Lane Company could not be contacted this week.