Mississippi’s Supreme Court Has Finally Cleared a Long-Delayed Casino Resort

A casino resort whose construction had been proposed for Long Beach has been delayed for a long time. But Mississippi’s Supreme Court recently cleared the construction of Parrish’s Restaurant & Lounge.

The restaurant’s owner intends to broaden his tidewaters lease agreement with Mississippi across High 90 to develop a casino resort in the state. Jim Parrish, a local realtor, has constantly sought approval from the state since 2018 to develop a $180 million casino resort near Long Beach Harbor.

Besides owning Parrish’s Restaurant & Lounge, he owns property on Beach Boulevard, across Highway 90. The realtor wants to construct the gaming venue on the land north of U.S. Highway 90.

He wants to adhere to Mississippi’s riverboat gaming regulations that need casinos to be 800 feet from the Gulf Coast’s mean high-water line. Parrish plans to link the casino resort’s main structure to Parrish’s Restaurant.

His proposal has been in court for several months since he introduced the scheme. Mississippi officials initially claimed that the realtor’s plan excluded actual gaming within 800 feet of the water. So, the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) shouldn’t approve the resort.

Even so, the Mississippi Supreme Court supported Parrish’s proposal this week citing previous boundary and lease agreements that he had reached with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.

Details About the Tidelands

Parrish built and opened Harbor Market, a raised spaceship structure, after making a tideland’s lease agreement with Mississippi and Long Beach. The law defines tidelands as tracts of land that tides cover and uncover daily with water.

The Mississippi Secretary of State manages such land and leases them to upland private owners to establish a business that will benefit the state and the public. Parrish and Mississippi formed a tidelands lease agreement for his restaurant’s venue in 2011.
His tidelands use application indicated that his major vision was to develop a gaming site called Long Beach Harbor Resort in the future. But Mississippi has tried several times to stop him and Long Beach Resort LLC from giving a market tidelands lease to a casino operator.

Michael Watson, the Mississippi Secretary of State denied Parrish a link to his property across Highway 90 and the tidelands. But the Supreme Court ruled that he was unfair to the realtor.

The court’s ruling stated that Mississippi would still have its rights as Trustee of the Tidelands if it hadn’t leased the right away to Long Beach and the Resort in 2011. It would have required Long Beach Resort to seek another tidelands lease. But, the state leased its right and ratified the previous Resort Lease.

The Gaming Commission’s Jurisdiction

The latest Mississippi Supreme Court ruling allows Parrish to have a qualifying property to develop the casino resort. But, the MGC has to review his casino project first.

The review process entails the MGC performing background checks on key officials and investors in the project and evaluating their financing plans. The realtor stated in 2019, before the endless legal battles with Mississippi and the Coronavirus pandemic, that he had received funds totaling $180 million to realize his vision. His 2019 blueprint featured a 300-room hotel and 40,000 square feet casino floor.

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