Saratoga Gaming hopes to close on Magnolia Bluffs Casino purchase in last quarter of this year, official tells Rotarians

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs at Saratoga Gaming, introduced himself and his company to members of The Rotary Club of Natchez on Wednesday.

Saratoga Gaming, which owns a hotel, casino and horse racing facility in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is in the process of purchasing the Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez. Carlson said his company hopes to close on the property in the fourth quarter of this year.

Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs, Saratoga Gaming.

Carlson spoke virtually to the Rotary Club from his office in Saratoga Springs.

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Saratoga Springs, located in upstate New York about 180 miles north of New York City, has a number of similarities to Natchez, Carlson said.

“In 1777, one of the biggest battles of the Revolutionary War was fought in Saratoga Springs,” he said. “The area is very historic. We have a 23,000 veterans buried in a historic national cemetery.”

Carlson said he has only visited Natchez once thus far, and was only in the city for about five hours, “but I can tell you this: Our customers service/guest service training there will be limited. You people get it.”

The casino in Saratoga, Carlson said, has 425 employees. “Pre-pandemic we had 600 employees. One of our biggest challenges is finding people to work,” he said.

The casino in Saratoga operates 1,200 slot machines and electronic table games. “We have no poker, no table games and no sports betting,” Carlson said.

The property in Saratoga also features a hotel and high-end restaurant, Morton’s Steakhouse. It also operates harness racing 150 days a year.

Carlson said the Magnolia Bluffs property was attractive to Saratoga Gaming because of “economies of scale.”

“We have a lot of things in mind for Natchez,” Carlson said. “We will need to invest some money in technology to help grow the business. We also have some food and beverage options we can introduce and improve sales.”

Dan Gerrity, president of Saratoga Gaming, is “very community minded,” Carlson said, and described several programs to honor and share funds with different non-profits in Saratoga.

Carlson asked Rotarians what they considered the biggest issues in Natchez and Adams County. It was the consensus of Rotarians present that those issues include education, workforce and employment.

He asked what advice Rotarians have for him when he worked in Natchez.

“Don’t talk about anybody because everyone knows each other or are related,” Rotarians said. “And it’s Natchez, like matches, not Nat-chez. If you call it Nat-chez, everyone will know you are a Yankee.”