HomeGambling Roundup$1.2 Billion Biloxi Casino Resort Planned

$1.2 Billion Biloxi Casino Resort Planned

A $1.2 billion casino with a 1,000-room hotel (l.) and "stunning" performance venue will be developed in Biloxi by Universal Music Group and the Dakia U-Ventures investment group. The project will be constructed at the site of the Broadwater Beach Hotel, built in 1939, closed in 2005 after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Universal Music Group and the Dakia U-Ventures investment group announced they will develop a $1.2 billion casino and 1,000-room hotel, the first of three UMUSIC Hotels, at the site of the circa 1939 Broadwater Beach Hotel, which closed in 2005—destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The other two will be built in Atlanta and Orlando. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said the Biloxi venture would bring “fun and economic growth for the people of Mississippi. Universal Music Group is a natural fit, considering the rich musical legacy of Mississippi and Biloxi in particular.”

The Biloxi city council approved a tourism tax incentive to redevelop the 266-acre site earlier this year. According to a press release, Universal officials said the development, which will create 2,500 new jobs, will be a “music-based experiential hotel” that will capture the location’s unique spirit and draw on its local culture. Dakia U-Ventures Chairman Robert Lavia said, “Every destination holds a great story just waiting to be told through its cultural heritage and its music. Through this new concept, we will both help people discover new ways to channel their love for music and the arts and help empower the transformation of communities worldwide through cultural, inspirational, creative and conscious collaboration.”

Furthermore, the statement said UMG “chooses cities that are inviting and influential, ones that are rich in music culture, where there’s always more to discover.” Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich added, “Music and entertainment have always been a part of Biloxi DNA.” He pointed out Elvis played and stayed in and around Biloxi in the late 1950s. Jayne Mansfield played her final show in Biloxi before she died in a car accident. Jimmy Buffett’s first professional gig was in Biloxi, which was a stop for many jazz and blues musicians.

The press release noted the UMUSIC Broadwater Hotel in Biloxi will provide a “stunning” performance venue, plus a golf course, spa and other amenities. The $1.2 billion price tag will make the casino resort the most expensive ever built in South Mississippi, surpassing the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino that was built in 1999 for $750 million to $800 million by Steve Wynn.

UMG describes itself as “the world leader in music-based entertainment,” involved in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. The company owns the rights to the music of the Beatles and Michael Jackson and represents many of the biggest names in music across many genres, including Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Bon Jovi, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Nasty C, Mariah Carey, Luke Bryan and the Escatawpa natives of 3 Doors Down.

The development meets the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s requirements that any new casino must be built within 800 feet of the high water line; it must have at least 300 hotel rooms and a fine dining restaurant; and must offer a unique amenity to draw visitors to the market—not just steal customers from the 12 existing Coastal casinos.

Also in Biloxi, Biloxi Capital LLC has proposed a $700 million casino resort at the 28-acre site of the old Tivoli Hotel. Following a presentation by Biloxi Capital, the Biloxi Businessmen’s Club wrote a letter to Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson supporting the tidelands lease agreement proposed by Biloxi Capital LLC.

Biloxi Businessmen’s Club President Cree Cantrell said, “People have talked for a long time about the need for an economic anchor in East Biloxi. When it determines the outcome of a proposed development of this size, $700 million in investment, 3,000 permanent jobs, that’s something we as members of the business community felt like we needed to force our opinion on. We’re believers in the free market and competition, so what we’re asking for from the secretary of state is what we feel like is a fair deal” regarding a tidelands lease agreement.

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