The casino industry drives the Coast's economy. This week, the Southern Gaming Summit is being held in Biloxi. One of the keynote speakers says the industry may have reached a saturation point. While the industry has room to grow, at least one person thinks there are too many players sitting at the table.
Wednesday at the Southern Gaming Summit, attendees were able to hear from the single most successful man in the gaming and hospitality industry, Tilman Fertitta. Fertitta is from Houston, Texas, but owns more than 500 restaurants, hotels, and casinos, the majority of which you've all heard of. The $2.4 billion man gave a little advice to his audience Wednesday, even if the truth hurt. When it comes to Fertitta, it’s all business. The C.E.O. and sole owner of the multi-billion dollar Landry's empire is also the mastermind behind bringing the Golden Nugget name to Biloxi. Fertitta says, "It was a great opportunity to bring the Golden Nugget brand to Biloxi, and we felt like the Golden Nugget brand had enough national recognition that it could maybe help bring more people into this area, besides just stealing business from other casinos."
During his speech at the Southern Gaming Summit, Fertitta held nothing back, stating that in order to keep the Biloxi market afloat, the State Gaming Commission needs to stop allowing more competition into the marketplace. Fertitta also says, "I think you gotta’ do just no more properties for a while. I think you've gotta’ put a five year, you know no more properties and you gotta’ weed out the weak, because there are weak properties." That doesn't mean Fertitta doesn't believe in Biloxi. He just invested $100 million into the Golden Nugget and says his biggest regret was not buying the IP Biloxi after Hurricane Katrina. Fertitta also says, "Between tunica and here, I mean, you've got two properties here that you don’t even know are gonna’ be open shortly, and all we've done is we took a property that was basically a dead property that’s a real competitor today."
Fertitta is referring to D'Iberville's Scarlet Pearl Casino project, and Rotate Black's Hemingway property in Gulfport that have been put on hold. In the end, Fertitta believes if you make smart choices, and add a little bit of good timing, your dreams can come true. Fertitta closes, "It’s a great dream, but you also have a little luck along the way, but also you make your dreams come true by working hard." Fertitta's next big project is the Golden Nugget in St. Charles, Louisiana.