- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Developers of a proposed casino at the Gulfport Harbor have failed to close on financing for the project by Tuesday’s deadline.

Rotate Black MS LLC has site approval for the Hemingway Casino on a 9½-acre site in Gulfport near U.S. Highways 90 and 49. The proposed $112 million casino by the state Gaming Commission on Dec. 30, one day before the deadline for the project under the former guidelines.

Rotate Black officials said the resort would have been based on the life of Ernest Hemingway.

“A Hemingway or similar theme at the Gulfport Harbor is a viable project,” John Hairston, chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1myyXFX ).

“I hope someone will step forward with the financial wherewithal to build a casino resort at this excellent site. The bulk of the work is already done and could easily be augmented to put forth a project compliant with the new regulations,” he said.”

To meet the new guidelines, the casino floor would have to be increased by 5,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet and 95 hotel rooms would have to be added to comply with the 300-room requirement.

Property broker Lenny Sawyer of Sawyer Real Estate is not giving up.

“Gulfport’s got a great gaming site,” he said. “It’s still a great site and I just believe something will come about.”

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said part of the deal for Rotate Black to move forward was paying off millions in debts to local vendors - including the city - when financing came through. The Gaming Commission, he said, was emphatic about that condition.

“There’s a long list of folks these people owed money to,” Hewes said, including architects, engineers, contractors and landowners.

Hewes said the city will start marketing the property again.

Tuesday was the second straight day of missed deadlines for proposed casinos in South Mississippi.

On Monday, developers of the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville missed a deadline for closing on the financing for a $250 million resort.

“I support the Scarlet Pearl project,” Hairston said. “Should they get their funding lined up as they committed to before we gave the last extension, I would be glad to call a special meeting or put them on a regular meeting agenda.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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