BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There's just a few more months left before one coast casino closes its doors. According to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Margaritaville Casino is the smallest casino in South Mississippi, but it currently has more than 350 employees who will be out of their jobs by September 19. That announcement was made Monday.
We spoke to an instructor and co-owner of the Coast Dealing Academy who says this is a rough time for anyone in the casino industry to lose their job.
John Montella's been teaching table games here at his school Coast Dealing Academy since 2011. Once students complete courses, he says his school helps them find jobs.
He says this period of the gaming season isn't the best time to learn you're going to be out of a job.
"Ya, there are going to be people having a hard time finding jobs. It will take a lot. And this is sorta coming towards the end of the good time of the year. We're getting into the rough time," said Montella.
Montella says he's had a good working relationship with Margaritaville. His school was the audition location for dealers before it opened. Though he says most people have speculated for some time the future of Margaritaville, it still comes as a surprise for him.
"I didn't see it, where they were going to close. It shocked me when I found out about it," he said.
While the casino says the closing is a result of a dispute with landlords making it impossible to secure financing for a hotel and other amenities, Montella believes other factors contributed.
"This last few years in a lot of states, there's so much gaming coming in that it's almost too much. More tables than players," Montella said.
He says the casinos here need another way to draw people in other than gambling and dining.
"A casino is a casino. You go into one casino, you go into another casino, and they're all the same. You gotta look at your personal. You gotta look at how you're being treated in there. And what do they have that keeps me wanting to come back. So they have to keep adding to that. A restaurant and a casino are not enough," he added.
As the Margaritaville workers start looking for jobs in other coast casinos during the end of the peak season, Montella says these casinos will have the upper hand for a little while until business picks back up and more workers are needed.