Hurrahs Entertainment to delay plans to rebuild Gulfport casino - Friday 14th of October 2005

Harrahs Entertainment Inc. plans to build a larger casino to replace the gutted Grand Casino Biloxi, but the company has delayed a decision on whether to rebuild its casino in Gulfport.

Anthony Sanfilippo, president of Harrahs Central Division, said its easier for the company to say it will rebuild in Biloxi because he believes the city is a true casino destination. Sanfilippo said Gulfports casino market is not as strong.

Nine of the Coasts 12 casinos are in Biloxi.

Both the Grand in Gulfport and Biloxi washed across U.S. 90 when Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29 and devastated much of south Mississippi. The Grand Casino Gulfports 160-by-110-foot barge has since been imploded so it could be removed from the highway.

Harrah took over operations of the casinos on June 13 from Caesars Entertainment.

Although casino executives have had preliminary meetings with Gulfport leaders, Sanfilippo said the company wants to spend more time with Mayor Brent Warr and the Port Authority so it has a better understanding about how city officials envision Gulfports future.

Warr has said he is opposed to casinos built north of U.S. 90. The City Council, which votes on local zoning laws, has not publicly announced its position on the matter.

?From a business prospective, Mayor (A.J.) Holloway has been very clear the rebuilding of Biloxi will be centered around the casino industry,“ Sanfilippo said. ?Mayor Warr is considering, as is the port, the best way to rebuild Gulfport.“

Rick Carter, co-owner of Copa Casino in Gulfport, said last week the Copa will rebuild. He said he hopes construction will start soon so employees can get back to work.

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