NEW YORK – Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (HET), the world's top gambling company, said Tuesday that it will sell rather than rebuild its Gulfport, Miss., casino that was demolished by Hurricane Katrina.
The company said it remains committed to developing "a first-class resort" in Biloxi, where its offshore casino was also destroyed by the late August storm.
Harrah's said it has agreed to sell the assets of the Grand Gulf casino to Gulfside Casino Partnership, operator of the nearby Copa Casino, for an undisclosed price.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2006, subject to regulatory approvals.
Harrah's had said in September that it was considering building a single, larger facility in Biloxi rather than rebuilding both Mississippi coastal sites.
The state passed legislation in October allowing floating casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to move slightly inland, alleviating safety concerns in the wake of Katrina, which demolished most of the state's coastal gambling barges.
The assets of the Gulfport casino will be sold in "as is" condition, with Harrah's retaining all insurance proceeds, the company said.
Harrah's said in October that insurance proceeds for its Mississippi properties were likely to equal or exceed the net book value of lost or damaged assets. At that time, the company had received more than $30 million from insurers.
Harrah's shares were up $1.05, or 1.6 percent, at $68.65 on the New York Stock Exchange.