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DIAMONDHEAD, MS-Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. of Atlantic City and Madeira Beach, FL-based Diamondhead Casino Corp. are forming a joint venture partnership to develop, build and operate a $300-million destination casino resort.

The JV will develop a minimum of 40 acres in a 404-acre tract owned by a Diamondhead subsidiary. The land, acquired in 1992 for $4.2 million, is valued at more than $110 million. “Land prices have skyrocketed in the area,” says Deborah Vitale, president, CEO and chairman of the board of Diamond Head Casino Corp.

The project site is along Interstate 10 midway between Alabama and New Orleans near Bay St. Louis. The developers are taking advantage of a new law signed by Gov. Haley Barbour that allows land-based casinos. “Now we can build casinos on land, up to 800 feet from the mean high-water line,” Vitale says.

The law was passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Vitale says casinos previously had to be built on or above water and set a minimum of 50% below mean high tide. The new legislation also beefs up construction guidelines so that coastline facilities are more structurally sound. The project timeline is still being fine-tuned.

Vitale predicts for GlobeSt.com that the joint venture will likely change the face of gaming in Mississippi, especially with the Trump name involved. “I think a lot of the public viewed Mississippi as a non-destination casino resort place because a lot of the casinos were boats and barges on water,” she says. “With this joint venture and with the Trump name, it could be deemed an Atlantic City resort.”

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