Might lead to customer refunds: Entergy Corp. has acknowledged in a letter that it sold power to Mississippi under a fuel contract that once led to $72 million in refunds to Louisiana customers. The letter is the latest development in the legal fight between Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and Entergy. Hood says Mississippi customers should also be entitled to refunds, though the company says it’s not yet sure that’s true. Hood has filed a lawsuit claiming Entergy and its subsidiaries illegally manipulated the purchase and sale of electricity to maximize profits. The company has denied wrongdoing.
Regional markets expected to be big winners: Casino operators are likely to continue to face difficult times on the Las Vegas Strip in 2009, but regional markets could offer a ray of hope, a JPMorgan analyst said. The gambling sector has struggled as consumers have curbed discretionary spending due to eroding credit, the ongoing housing downturn, escalating food costs and unemployment concerns. Furthermore, airlines have made capacity cuts to cope with the worsening economy and higher fuel costs. If fewer flights are heading to Las Vegas, it is likely that the casinos and hotels are hosting fewer visitors there even as they have continued to expand, noted JPMorgan analyst Joseph Greff. Greff says he favors companies such as Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, and Pinnacle Entertainment, which plans to build a casino resort on River Road, because of their regional focus.
Best in blues: New Orleans blues pianist Dr. John has been voted as the Blues Legend for this year’s Slim Harpo Awards, sponsored by the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation. The Louisiana Music Hall of Famer has performed and recorded alongside The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin and dozens of Louisiana artists. He’s responsible for the “Love dat chicken from Popeyes” jingle as well as The City that Care Forgot, his 2008 recordings with Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Ani Difranco and Terence Blanchard. Alvin Batiste, the late clarinetist and Southern University music teacher, was awarded the Blues Ambassador award, which will be accepted on behalf of his widow, Edith Chatters Batiste. John Lisi earned the Blues Pioneer award. The awards ceremony will be at 7:30 p.m. March 28 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. For more information or tickets, go to brbluesfoundation.org.