Harrah's to Sell Gulfport, Miss., Casino-Hotel, Rebuild in Biloxi

Las Vegas -- Revealing its strategy for rebuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Harrah's Entertainment said today it plans to sell its Gulfport casino-hotel property "as is" while building a "first-class resort" on its Biloxi site.

The world's largest gaming company, Harrah's said it has signed an agreement to sell the Gulfport property to Grand Casino Partnership. Grand Casino owns Copa Casino, which is also located in Gulfport. The sale price was undisclosed, and the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

In announcing the sale agreement, Anthony Sanfilippo, president of Harrah's operations in the central United States, said, "We are fully committed to this state and are excited about the opportunity to design and develop a first-class resort at our Biloxi site…. And by selling these assets to our neighbors in Gulfport, we will give the owners of the Copa site the additional space they need to develop an ambitious project of their own.

"This agreement is a significant step toward the rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Sanfilippo added.

Harrah's properties in Gulfport and Biloxi as well as in New Orleans were shut down as a result of the heavy damage that Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon them, in August.

Meanwhile, Harrah's said Friday that it plans to reopen its New Orleans casino in February. The company is also building a new 450-room hotel on the casino site, with plans for completion by next August.