Horry County report shows Big M to buy SunCruz Casino, pay more than $480K of SunCruz debt

08/12/2014 11:09 PM

08/13/2014 6:12 AM

Horry County officials believe they are about to receive more than $484,000 in back boarding fees from the possible sale of the now-defunct SunCruz Casino in Little River.

Big M Gaming reportedly is working to buy the recently closed SunCruz Casino, according to a resolution approved Tuesday by the Horry County Council.

A message left at Big M Gaming’s marketing office was not returned Tuesday.

Horry County Council agreed to a settlement Tuesday with Big M Gaming and SunCruz Casino to recoup $484,272 of the $700,000 SunCruz owed the county in boarding fees. According to the county’s resolution, Big M is purchasing SunCruz for $2 million of its assets, excluding the boat, and $2 million in dock value and property.

In February 2008, Horry County passed an ordinance that required casino boats to pay $7 per passenger as a boarding fee.

County Attorney Arrigo Carroti said management at SunCruz, owned by Venture South Carolina, ceased paying the fee.

“Several years ago, SunCruz stopped paying us what they were required to pay us... We sued them,” Carotti said at Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting.

“They owed us about $700,000 ... for not paying.”

Carotti said talks of Big M Gaming, a once nearby competitor of SunCruz, buying the casino emerged in January and long before SunCruz shut its doors for good on July 28.

“In turn, we are settling that litigation with the sum of $484,272 of that $700,000 owed,” Carotti said.

“That closing is anticipated to take place sometime this week.”

The county will be the first deduction and disbursement made from the sale.

“Our settlement will be on the closing statement itself, on settlement documents, where we get paid at closing,” said Mark Lazarus, council chairman.

Carotti said the county is pleased to continue to work with Big M Gaming because it abides by county rules.

“There’s going to be one operator, one business owner, at two locations,” Carotti said. “Big M has always been great at paying and complying with the ordinances. So, it should be a good continuing relationship.”

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