Wasted away — Margaritaville in Biloxi to close by Sept. 19

margaritaville logoJust a little more than two years after it opened, Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi will close its doors on or before, Sept. 19, the casino said today in a memo to its employees.

“MVB Holding, LLC has been actively working to resolve a dispute with its landlords to secure financing to build a hotel and other amenities that it believes would have enabled MVB to keep Margaritaville-Biloxi open. Unfortuately, those efforts were not successful,” the notice of closing memo said.

“As a result,the Board of Directors regrets to inform you that MVB will be closing on or before September 19, 2014. Once closed, we expect the closing of the entire MVB-Biloxi site to be permanent.”

“It’s unfortunate, but it is a sign of the times,” said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. “I believe it does solidify the idea of amenities and hotels. While those are not guarantees to success, they often do lead to success. I understand Margaritaville was wanting to get there.”

The Margaritaville memo said workers who stay on the job will continue to receive wages through Sept. 19, even if the casino closes sooner. According to the gaming commission website, Margaritaville employs 359 total workers, the smallest staff of the 12 casinos on the Coast.

“Our hearts certainly go out to Margaritaville employees and their families,” said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols, “and we’re hopeful that the state’s rapid response dislocated worker unit will be able to help these workers find new employment.

“Developments like this are not uncommon in the Mississippi gaming industry. We operate in a free-market system, and a number of factors come into play, including location, amenities, marketing, management and so forth. In the 20-plus years since gaming opened in Biloxi, we’ve seen a number of casinos come and go – Lady Luck, Gold Coast, Casino Magic, the President and the Biloxi Belle, to name a few — but the Biloxi casino market remains strong.”

Margaritaville has been plagued with problems since it tried to open several years ago.

In March of 2013, the casino was fined $10,000 by the Mississippi Gaming Commission because it did not have the minimum amount of money required to be kept on site.

Margaritaville is the second Mississippi casino to close this summer. In June, Harrah’s Tunica closed, a victim of the competitive casino market that has hurt north Mississippi. Margaritaville suffered from a lack of amenities, while Harrah’s was the largest operation in Tunica when it closed.

“Those two casinos closed for compeletely different reasons,” said Godfrey. “The market in Tunica and the market in Biloxi are two different markets.”

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