D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The City of D'Iberville is reaping the benefits of its first ever casino. The Scarlet Pearl has been open for just over six months, and the dollars are pouring in. City officials worked for 20 years to bring a casino to town, and it appears the gamble has paid off in a big way.
The Scarlet Pearl rises high in the air. City revenues are rising as well, according to city manager Clay Jones.
"We're on target. We budget conservatively, and that's about what we expected. We knew it was going to be a good impact," Jones said.
How good is it? In the past six months, the city has taken in an additional $1.6 million. About $1.1 million in gaming taxes and $500,000 in increased sales taxes.
Nearby businesses are seeing good things as well. Margaret Aucoin, the owner of a salon, reflects on the days since the Pearl opened.
"We've seen improvement. We get a lot of the employees from Scarlet Pearl and tourists. They are coming now, and we appreciate it," said Aucoin.
Even a pet boarding and grooming business is doing better, according to owner Charles Drawdy.
"We have people that travel here and spend the night or the weekend, and we keep their dogs. Some of them are daycare dogs. We keep them during the day, but most of them will spend the night," said Drawdy.
The McElory's, from Tennessee, spent some time and money here. Mark spoke for the family.
"We've spent about $1,100. We've spent it on food, clothing, entertainment, casinos. It was really a nice trip," Mark said.
The casino is about to build a parking garage. That bodes well for a restaurant, where the owner, Bert Fletcher, expects to be cracking some more eggs for construction workers.
"This is a place where you can come in and get something to eat and get back to work without having to sit and wait on your food. You come in, get your plate and you can start eating in five minutes," Fletcher explained.
With thousands of people coming to visit D'Iberville every month, that means city leaders have had to beef up staff, especially when it comes to public safety, according to Jones.
"We've been hiring police and fire for the past year, ramping up for the opening of the casino, and we plan to continue that as the need arises," said Jones.
City leaders just hope that need continues.
The Scarlet Pearl has been averaging close to $ 6 million a month in gross revenues since it's opening.
While the coast's newest casino may have siphoned off some customers from other casinos, it has also apparently grown the market. Gaming revenues on the coast are up about 7 percent over this time last year, averaging about $102 million a month.