One of the largest, most recognized gambling destinations in the United States is not located in Las Vegas, or Atlantic City. I’m referring to the Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut. It’s operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, and now the tribe is looking to open a new Foxwoods Casino in Biloxi, along the coast of Mississippi.
The tribe has agreed to contribute $2 million towards the estimated total $265 million project, and will operate the facility once it opens – if they receive the approval of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
The Commission already approved the site for the new casino back in 2012; a 180,000 square foot property formerly housing a pet food factory, owned by business magnate Chris Ferrara.
Ferrara, who owns several other businesses, including a firetruck manufacturing plant in Louisiana, has been trying to open a casino on the Mississippi coast for years now. Raising enough funds from investors, as well as state and local interests, has hampered the plan, but he’s hoping involvement from the highly experienced Connecticut tribe will give the new Foxwoods Casino the final push it needs to complete the project by 2019.
The Mashantucket Pequot have operated the immense Foxwoods Casino in eastern Connecticut for the last three decades, and have been looking to expand for a while now. Revenue has fallen short in recent years, forcing the tribe to default on $2.3 billion debt in 2009, and failing to meet the requirements of a restructuring deal in 2014, mostly attributed to the economic recession and an increase in market competition in the northeast.
Player Sharing at Foxwoods Casinos
A new Foxwoods Resort in Biloxi could be just what the financial doctor ordered. Just carrying the Foxwoods Casino name would be a fantastic incentive to draw customers, not just from the Mississippi area, but well beyond.
Developers like former Foxwoods casino executive Jeff Hartmann, who is now working on the new project in Biloxi, are particularly keen on drawing customers from the northeast by networking their promotional rewards campaigns with the popular Mashantucket casino property. Hartmann sees the concept as “an opportunity to import new players into the market.”
The current proposal includes a 500-room hotel and a sizeable casino floor that would house near 1,400 slot machines and table games. Even at that size, competing with the vast gambling market in Mississippi won’t be easy, especially considering three area casinos are already larger.
Show Me The Money
Securing the necessary funds for the $265 million Biloxi Foxwoods Casino is an ongoing process. The property is nestled onto the backend of a peninsula that would require the construction of a $22 million loop roadway. The city of Biloxi has agreed to fork over $9 million, with another $5 million committed by the state and the remaining $7 million coming from Ferrara.
Bill Newby, with TFA Capital Partners, a financial firm that’s helping raise money for the new Foxwoods Casino, called the tribe’s involvement, “a real endorsement for the plan.” He believes the remaining funds will be easier to raise as they look to overseas investors seeking an opportunity to gain permanent US residency by investing $500k+ and creating 10+ jobs.