New Casino Breaks Ground in South Mississippi

Hancock County officials and gambling executives plunged ceremonial shovels into the earth Wednesday to mark the groundbreaking for the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall and Saloon, but construction is already well under way.

It will be the Coast's only traditional riverboat casino when it opens in November and creates 650 new jobs. The casino will begin accepting job applications in July.

Paul Alanis, the chief executive of Silver Slipper Gaming, pledged that the casino would treat all its guests like VIPs and offer unique experiences.

Noting that he had friendly competitors in the audience, Alanis did not expound on his ideas for what will be Hancock County's second casino. Marlin Torguson, the chairman and CEO of the proposed Bacaran Bay Casino, and Joe Billhimer, the president and chief operating officer of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, were in the audience.

Both Hard Rock and Silver Slipper are slated to open this year, raising the number of casinos on the Coast from 12 to 14. Bacaran Bay, which appears on track to receive all the state permits and leases it needs, would be the 15th.

The Silver Slipper is already spurring economic development. A 180-unit condominium project is planned for land near the casino, which is at the end of Beach Boulevard at Bayou Caddy.

The casino site consists of 37 acres, but only part of the land will be used during the first phase of development.

The four-level riverboat will be adjacent to a 44,000-square-foot building that will offer a 250-seat buffet and a private dining area. It will also have a saloon and sports bar with live entertainment. An outdoor patio will overlook the beach.

The riverboat will have 24,000 square feet of gambling space and a 9-table poker room on its top floor. All slot machines will be coinless. A casino bar with wide screen televisions and video poker will be located on all four levels of the riverboat.

John Ferrucci, the casino's general manager, thanked the Hancock County Board of Supervisors for helping make the project become a reality.

"We're going to make it better, different and fun," Ferrucci said. "We want the people who work here to have a good attitude and we want the people of Hancock County to be proud to have us in their back yard."