By Associated Press - Saturday, October 17, 2015

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - After more than two decades of gambling in Natchez, the Isle of Capri Casino is closing its doors at noon Sunday.

Isle of Capri, one of the oldest gambling houses in Mississippi, first announced the closure and sale of its hotel in August. Isle of Capri spokeswoman Jill Alexander this week confirmed the Sunday closing date.

The hotel’s approximately $11.5 million sale to parent company, Casino Holding Investment Partners, will be completed Monday, said Magnolia Bluffs Casino President Kevin Preston.

The hotel will close for two or three days to switch over its computer system, change out vending machines and do other work before reopening next week, Preston said.

“We’ll be reopening just as quickly as we can,” he said.

The planned rebranding and renovation of the hotel will start almost immediately, Preston said, with the lobby and the painting of the entire exterior of the hotel. That work should be completed within 30 days, Preston said.

The company will then begin remodeling the hotel rooms, working one floor at a time so rooms will remain open throughout the process. The remodeling work should be completed in about four months, Preston said.

Alexander told the Natchez Democrat ( ) that the future of the casino facility - a barge with a riverboat replica built on it - is uncertain. She said she had no information on whether the barge will be moved from Natchez.

The Isle of Capri is evaluating what equipment in the casino can be used at the company’s other properties, Alexander said. Isle of Capri operates 14 other casinos across the country.

“It’s going to take a period of time to unwind the business,” she said.

Surveillance and security will still be active at the property after the casino closes, Alexander said.

The Isle of Capri has owned the Natchez property, a dockside casino with 520 slot machines and six table games, since 2000. Prior to the Isle’s ownership, the casino was owned by Lady Luck Casino Corporation, which opened in 1993.

The casino generated $23 million in revenue in fiscal year 2015, but a company snapshot published in June noted that since Magnolia Bluffs Casino opened in December 2012 the Isle of Capri’s gambling revenues in Natchez have declined - even as overall company revenues increased 5 percent in 2015.

The Isle of Capri leases about 24 acres of land related to its Natchez gambling operations, paying an annual rent of approximately $1.1 million. The company also leases approximately 7.5 acres for parking and owns six additional acres and the property where its hotel sits.

The Isle of Capri is one of 18 casinos that operate along the Mississippi River from Tunica to Natchez. Twelve casinos operate on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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