Casino’s civil lawsuit against Natchez seeks to keep city from releasing revenue information

Published 12:17 am Tuesday, June 12, 2018

NATCHEZ — Magnolia Bluffs Casino last week filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Natchez.

City attorney Bob Latham said the filing was in response to a public records request made by a third party.

Latham said a third party requested financial information from the city regarding the casino, and that the casino responded by filing a lawsuit to keep the party from obtaining confidential information.

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The City of Natchez, Latham said, is only tangentially related to the suit.

Court filings say the casino filed the lawsuit for the “protection of its confidential information” from a public records request citizen Roy F. King, III, submitted in early May.

The casino’s lawsuit said King requested “gaming revenues, payments, overages, public investment and infrastructure requirements of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino for the past five years.”

King said his reason for filing the records request is twofold: He has a client who is interested in the information, and he has a personal interest.

King said he would not release the name of his client, but said the person is in business with people who are related to the gaming industry.

Outside of his client’s interest, King said he has questions of his own about the revenue.

The City of Natchez receives 3.2 percent of all gaming revenues in Natchez, and King said he requested the information because he wants to ensure the city is getting the correct cut of funds generated by the casino.

“We’re accepting the numbers that are being provided for us by the casino or by the city officials,” King said. “The casino signed a contract with the city and the public has a vested interest in knowing this information. … I would like to be able to see the numbers and do the math myself to make sure the city is getting what it’s supposed to be getting.”

King said he had not yet been notified of the casino’s civil lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that the casino will suffer “irreparable harm” from any publication of its confidential information. The filing also says the casino is protected in part by a state law that protects against the disclosure of confidential commercial or financial information.

Kevin Preston, founder and president of Magnolia Bluffs Casino, said the lawsuit is in no way against the city, and only concerns King’s records request.

Latham said if the case goes to court, the entity filing the lawsuit will request that the confidential information not be made public, and the defendant must make a case for why he or she needs the information.