Casino market takes step back in time

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 13, 2015

Natchez’s bluff as a two-casino town just went bust.

Not quite three years after the city’s second casino opened its doors, Natchez’s first casino announced plans Tuesday to throw in the cards and send approximately 240 people out of work.

Any casual observer could have seen it coming for months and months.

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The once proud and well-kept Isle of Capri Casino was looking a bit like a gambler down on his luck.

A photo taken from the Vidalia side of the river this week shows rusty exterior walls and faded paint.

The company suggests the casino lost approximately $4.5 million in Natchez over the last two fiscal years.

The impact on the community will be significant. From the employees to the local suppliers of goods and services to the Isle, many local people will feel the pain of the loss.

The City of Natchez will feel the impact in lost gaming tax revenues — which are paid on gross receipts, not profits, of a casino — but may recoup some or all of that money once gamblers are forced to migrate to the lone casino again.

The experts tried to tell the city prior to the new casino opening that the market’s numbers and research didn’t indicate the area could support more than one casino operation. Once again the experts were correct, and the city’s hopes of defying the odds were wrong.

In the end, no one should blame the competitor, Magnolia Bluffs Casino. They took a gamble — one that could have failed miserably — in investing heavily in a new Natchez casino. In the end, their hand was stronger than the former champion’s and capitalism won out.

While the closure will be a great loss for those affected, effectively economically Natchez is back to where it was prior to December 2012.

And fortunately, the city will survive and continue to thrive.