Grand Soliel gets its license

Published 12:27 am Thursday, May 22, 2008

NATCHEZ — The Grand Soleil on Friday was officially licensed as a casino operator by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

This license will act as a large thrust toward the opening of the casino.

“That’s a big step for us,” said Baxter Lee, marketing director for the Grand Soleil.

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For example, the casino can start placing orders for all amenities needed for the casino boat, gaming tables, slot machines and more.

“A lot of the gaming equipment manufacturers require that you be a licensed operator before you can actually place an order,” Lee said.

While the casino has had vendors lined up all the while, they can finally start ordering and plan to do so within the next 30 days, Lee said.

He said the process to obtain a license is lengthy.

The gaming commission does background checks on every party involved in the project, from Big River Enterprises, one partner in the project, to the Lac du Flambeau Tribe of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, another partner in the project.

“They find out whether you are suitable to have a license,” Lee said. “They thoroughly check everyone involved in the project.”

Five individuals involved in the casino project also received suitability licenses the same day.

Receiving a suitability license is similar to getting an operating license, in that those applying for it undergo background checks and their integrity is researched.

Anyone from a general manager to an investor in a project are eligible for suitability licenses.

Now with these licenses issued, casino representatives expect to open in the fourth quarter of 2008, which would be sometime between October and December.

Lee said an exact date will be determined further down the road and that a few things need to happen first.

“We’ve kind of got a couple of things we’re waiting on,” he said.

Like the tunnel under the railway they plan to build, which they have contractors lined up to do, and work on the casino boat will begin in the next two to four weeks, he said.

“As those things get together, we’ll have a firm opening date in mind,” Lee said.