Biloxi’s Margaritaville closing is unfortunate

Published 1:36 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2014

We were saddened to learn of the impending closure of Margaritaville Casino in South Mississippi.

Even though the property was located in Biloxi, the location was also a source of both enjoyment and even employment for many folks in Pearl River County.

Even if legal gaming wasn’t your cup of tea, Margaritaville also provided great food and good music in an enjoyable atmosphere.

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Plus the namesake of the place, Jimmy Buffett, has deep ties to South Mississippi since he was born in Pascagoula and attended Pearl River Community College for a while.

The multi-talented superstar even provided a videotape for the PRCC marching band last year that was played before its halftime performances at Dobie Holden Stadium in Poplarville.

The casino, that began with a bang when Buffett and his Corral Reefer Band came down and performed at the grand opening just a little over two years ago, announced Monday that it will close on or before Sept. 19 and all of its 371 employees will be without a job.

It was perhaps the smallest of 12 Gulf Coast casinos, one of only three without a hotel. CEO Doug Shipley told reporters Monday that the lack of a hotel to anchor out-of-town gamblers, combined with an out-of-the-way location isolated from Biloxi’s other casinos contributed to the property’s losses.

“The story here is without a hotel, we cannot operate in a competitive market,” Shipley said.

Mississippi’s Gaming Commission allowed Margaritaville, a $62 million project when it opened in May 2012, to be built without a hotel. Analysts questioned its small size, leading to higher investment requirements for new casinos.

Shipley said the Biloxi casino plans to operate normally through August. Another spokeman said hours could be reduced or Margaritaville could close earlier if business drops sharply.

Either way, Monday wasn’t a good day to be in Margaritaville. We can only hope better times will come.