Natchezians travel to voice Roth Hill casino concerns

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2012

GULFPORT — Natchez residents appeared before the Mississippi Gaming Commission at its Thursday meeting and voiced concerns about the proposed Roth Hill casino but did not receive many answers from the commission.

Gwen Ball spoke at the end of the meeting during time for public comment and told commissioners that the group of residents at the meeting had concerns about the proposed Magnolia Bluffs Casino site and the safety at the site.

“That concern isn’t one that should be before this commission,” MGC Chairman Jerry St. Pe said.

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St. Pe said the gaming commission requires a number of elements be certified by various local agencies before it approves a site, and concerns would need to be addressed to those local agencies.

Ball said she told the commissioners that residents were concerned they had not been given full disclosure to the full approval process.

Paris Winn also attended the meeting, along with David Ball, Beau Bumgardner and Neil Varnell. Winn said Ball pointed out the recently proposed third amendment to the city’s lease with Natchez Gaming Enterprises to the commission.

The amendment, if approved by the city, would name Levine Leichtman Capital Partners Inc., one of the casino’s investors, a leasehold mortgagee and third-party beneficiary.

The amendment would allow LLCP to purchase part of and have equity ownership of Natchez Gaming Enterprises and would not allow the city or Natchez Enterprises to terminate the lease without notifying and receiving approval from the investment company.

Winn said that gaming commissioners said that the amendment would have to come back to the commission for approval.

Natchez Gaming Enterprises is required to finalize and submit all funding documents to the gaming commission by Feb. 24.

Winn and Ball said the meeting was a very positive experience.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to let the commission know there is opposition to the project and the procedural processes that have been going on,” she said.


Sun Herald reporter Mary Perez contributed to this report.