Isle of Capri Casino closes

Published 1:15 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

NATCHEZ — The Isle of Capri Casino has closed its doors.

Assistant City Engineer David Atkins said it was decided at a Saturday evening meeting that casino would close at 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Jack Sours, the casino’s general manager, said earlier in the week rising river levels would make the closing inevitable.

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But how long the casino will remain closed for is unknown.

“It’s a coin toss,” Atkins said.

Atkins said the casino is essentially forced to close since the city will be closing D.A. Biglane.

Currently, the boat is docked on D.A. Biglane and is protected from floodwaters by a stack of sandbags.

Atkins said Biglane was closed for safety concerns.

The boat was moved from its normal Silver Street location last weekend.

“You can’t keep that river back forever,” Atkins said.

City Engineer David Gardner said the boat will not be moved again and will ride out the flood where it is.

Sours said the closure would bring a financial blow to the city and the casino.

The casino’s employees will continue to be paid during the boat’s closure, Sours said.

But sales tax dollars typically generated on the casino would cease.

If the casino only shut down for a few days due to floodwaters, the city would not be impacted much, West said. The real problems would come if the casino closed for several weeks.

West said the city receives between $800,000 and $1 million per year from the casino and right now, that money is used to pay back bond debt for the convention center.

“We would have to make that up by taking money from the general fund and other sources,” he said. “Whenever you lose money, all the bills stay the same so we would have to make some kind of adjustment.”

Gardner said after the boat’s closing he felt it would float safely in place.

“The boat’s mooring system that keeps the boat in place was built to handle the river level at 56.5 feet,” he said. “We’re comfortable that the mooring system is adequate to handle these river levels.”