Diamondhead Casino gets new chairman of board | Casinos

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PATRICK OCHS/SUN HERALDDiamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer tells residents Wednesday morning Diamondhead Casino Corp. is making moves to get its project going in the city.

DIAMONDHEAD -- Put Diamondhead Casino Corp. back onto the growing list of companies offering possible casino projects in South Mississippi. The public firm, created to develop a casino on Diamondhead property it owns, announced Wednesday that former of MTR Gaming Group Chairman Ted Arneault will become chairman of the board.

He will replace long-time Diamondhead Casino chairman Deborah Vitale, who is stepping down.

Vitale said Arneault was chosen to lead

the company to construction because he has experience building and operating casinos and a background as a certified public accountant.

She said the differences between Diamondhead Casino and other proposed casinos are location and room for a casino resort with many amenities to grow the market.

"The sheer size of my property is what allows this particular project to attract financing," she said. Diamondhead Casino owns 404 acres along Interstate 10 and two miles of waterfront on the Bay of St. Louis on which to build a resort and amenities.

"There is not another location in the USA that has that," she said.

The company announced Wednesday it has closed on the first $1 million of a $3 million debenture offering convertible to common stock, which is a method companies use to finance projects. It will be easier to get additional funding after the casino has site approval, she said.

The property had site approval for two casinos on Bay of St. Louis before Hurricane Katrina, and Vitale said the company will return to the Gaming Commission when the project is ready to get site approval for its land-based casino.

The land already has the correct zoning from the city of Diamondhead and a mean high water survey needed for site approval, she said.

Diamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer announced progress on the casino at a meeting Wednesday and said, "I know it's relatively controversial. Some people don't want a casino. … Some people want it one place and don't want it another place."

He read from the Diamondhead Casino press release and said, "Hopefully, most of you see it as some type of good news. Whether or not it happens, I don't know, but if we have action, sometimes action breeds reaction and we need a hotel and we need some type of development."

Vitale said she and Arneault will meet Friday to discuss where on the Diamondhead Casino property the resort should be.

She has worked for years to build a casino on the site, even getting close to a deal with Donald Trump after Hurricane Katrina.

About 14 years ago, she sold her four gambling ships in Florida and used the money to pay off the Diamondhead land.

"I bet the whole company on Diamondhead," she said. "I never doubted for a minute I had done the right thing."

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