New Casino Scheduled for Mississippi Gulf Coast

Sandra Manno, the chief executive of a company seeking to put a casino in Biloxi, announced Thursday that her brother would run the proposed Havana Casino and that she expects to start construction in September.

Joseph V. Manno has worked in the casino industry in Atlantic City and Las Vegas for over 30 years. Most recently, he was senior vice president of casino operations for Paris and Bally's casinos in Las Vegas.

His new title is president and CEO of Havana Casino Resort. His sister's title is CEO of the casino's parent company, Onnam Entertainment Inc.

The company is privately held and has not previously developed a casino, but Sandra Manno said financing would be "no hurdle for us whatsoever." The goal is to be open by New Year's Day 2007 with a $300 million, Latin-themed casino that will offer six restaurants, a nightclub, a wedding chapel and a state-of-the-art recording studio.

The next steps in the approval are to get master plan approvals from the city of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Joseph Manno said he looks forward to putting his management team in place.

"The strength of any organization is its people and the way you manage your people," Manno said.

The Mannos said Biloxi is poised for explosive growth. Sandra Manno had the concept developed for the Havana Casino and was looking for the right location, said Steve Richer, executive director of the Harrison County Tourism Commission. He provided information to her about the Coast.

"We're an advocate for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, saying this is where the new market is," Richer said. "Someone once asked the soccer player Pele why he was so good at the game. He replied, 'I play where the ball is going to be, not where it is.'"