by Terence Baker | June 01, 2005

A spruced-up spa and
a new golf course are
among the enhancements
at Biloxi’s Beau Rivage
Resort & Casino.

America’s love affair with gaming continues apace. While Las Vegas still leads the charge, destinations such as Atlantic City and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are catching up, especially when it comes to auxiliary features such as world-class hotels, name-brand restaurants, top-tier entertainment and state-of-the-art convention facilities. Of course, the biggest boom is in Native American properties, a realm worthy of a discussion all its own (see this accompanying article).
    One undeniable trend of recent months has been the supersizing of gaming properties and the companies that create them. For proof, look no further than the section on Nevada beginning on page 60, where news that the gargantuan Wynn Las Vegas, itself only a few months old, already has announced an impending $1.4 billion expansion somehow seems perfectly natural. And the boom hardly is confined to the Strip.
    For more of the latest gaming news from around the nation, read on.


In the works is a $62 million hotel tower attached to the Harrah’s Metropolis Casino riverboat, in Metropolis on the Ohio River, across from Kentucky. The 258-room property will have a 12,000-square-foot events center for up to 1,200 people. Groundbreaking took place last month for a spring 2006 opening.
    The Casino Queen & Hotel in East St. Louis will begin a $150 million expansion later this summer.


Harrah’s New Orleans Casino is building a $142 million, 450-room hotel tower, to open early next year. 
    L’Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino opened in May in Lake Charles, near the Texas border. The 770,000-square-foot newcomer features a casino, a golf course, five restaurants and a pool complex. The 26-story hotel has 743 guest rooms, while the 26,000 square feet of meeting space includes a 14,175-square-foot ballroom. Outside are the poolside Island area and the Parc Fleur de Lys lawn, both ideal for events.


Coming soon:
Detroit’s Greektown Casino
is adding a 400-room hotel.


The Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and MotorCity Casino, all in Detroit, are facing legal challenges that have halted of construction of three 400-room hotels, one at each property. 
    The Mandalay Resort Group sold its 53.5 percent interest in MotorCity immediately prior to its April 25 merger with fellow casino giant MGM Mirage.


September will mark the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi. The $235 million property will have 317 guest rooms, as well as a gaming barge, a spa, four restaurants and a concert hall.
    At press time, the $80 million expansion of the Isle of Capri Casino Resort in Biloxi was on the verge of opening. Featuring 400 guest rooms for a new property total of 767, the expansion also offers 34,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot events center, for a new grand total of 49,000 square feet.
    In February 2006, the 1,740-room Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi will open a new 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course called Fallen Oak. The course will not be on the grounds of the property itself, but rather adjacent to the city’s DeSoto National Forest. Meanwhile, the resort recently renovated its lobby and expanded its spa.
    Harrison County, which includes the cities of Biloxi and Gulfport, recently hiked its hotel room tax from 3 to 5 percent. The area convention and visitors bureau will receive 2.25 percent of the tax, while the remainder will go to Biloxi’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum & Convention Center. In addition, a $68 million expansion of the center will open in 2007 and include 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, bringing the facility’s total to 380,000 square feet.