Goldstrike Casino

The Tunica County casinos used to be one of the only locations for gambling and legal sports betting since the early 1990s. Tunica was the South’s premier gambling location, with over eleven casinos in the county alone.

But since then, other states have begun legalizing gambling and sports betting within their jurisdictions, causing competition and a handful of Tunica brick-and-mortar casinos to shut down. Last June, the Resorts Casino Tunica closed its doors, making it the third casino to do so since 2014.

Only six casinos remain in Tunica, including Resorts Casino Tunica neighbor Hollywood Casino Tunica. Tunica County legalized gambling in 1992, peaking in 2001 with 13,000 jobs and high revenues. Revenues have fallen since 2006, and the casino now employs around 5,000 workers.

With neighboring states like Arkansas and Tennessee opening gambling restrictions, the scene does not look good for Tunica’s future. Memphis has continued to grow in popularity for gambling, and a 2019 Arkansas referendum approved four full-fledged casinos.

Moreover, Tennessee upped the competition with their new online regulated sports betting market, enjoying operators with big names like BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Tennessee Action 24/7. The first week of business brought in over $27 million in wagered capital.

The coronavirus added another stressor to the Tunica domestic gambling industry. After statewide lockdowns lifted, casinos were hopeful of returning to normalcy after seeing traffic beginning to trickle in.

But job market reports show that Tunica is still struggling to recover from the pandemic, with a 13.8 percent unemployment rate. President and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau spoke on the issue.

“The gaming commission came out with the fact that we have to run at the 50 percent occupancy, but the numbers are strong, and we are lucky that NFL and College Football is all going. Sports betting is something that people are coming down for,” Franklin said.

When asked on the return of live shows and entertainment, Franklin said, “You can gamble anywhere in America today, it’s not like it was when we first started in the ’90s, and what separates you as a destination is the entertainment that we have here.”

But anyone who keeps up with us knows that one of the best options for Mississippians to gamble is using one of our recommended online Tunica casinos. These casinos operate internationally, so you do not have to worry about domestic restrictions, shutdowns, or the coronavirus. Our online Tunica casinos are industry-leading reputable gambling destinations.

Las Vegas Sun
FOX 13 Memphis

Collazo scores a KO in Fight Hosted By Horseshoe Casino in Tunica

The bets started to roll in at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi as the back and forth battle between the two southpaws started to turn heads. A Brooklyner and former World Champion, Luis Callazo took on welterweight contender, Sammy Vasquez Jr in the main event of Premier Boxing Championships on FS1 and FOX Deportes. The Horseshoe Casino is one of the remaining casino properties in the region, and did a wonderful job hosting the event. Despite a rough economic situation existing in Tunica, the event was well attended. Tunica online casinos are becoming more popular as some of the region’s most beloved brick and mortar casinos have closed their doors.

Both of the fighters were coming off a loss but Collazo was the more experienced fighter in the ring that night, sporting a 36-7 record. Collazo won the WBA welterweight title in 2006 with a split decision win over Jose Antonio Rivera which thrust him into discussion with the biggest names in the sport. He went on to have fights with guys like Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosely, and Andre Berto. Despite the unfortunate consequence of coming up short in headline bouts against big names, he kept pushing and eventually got another shot at the next level. In January of 2014, he had the chance to fight Victor Ortiz for the WBA international welterweight title. Victor Ortiz was at the top of the sport and was the heavy favorite. Luis Collazo knocked Ortiz out with a sharp lead right hook as both fighters raced to throw the same punch when Collazo’s hook landed first.

It was the same punch that ended the night early for Vasquez, “Going into the fight I knew he didn’t like the body shots. In the locker room my team was telling me that he’s going to be waiting for it. We wanted to touch him soft down low and then go up top. We opened him up. We both tried to line up the hook and mine landed first,” said Collazo. After the bout, Collazo dropped to his knees and prayed as his opponent struggled to regain consciousness in the middle of the ring in Tunica, Mississippi.

Vasquez, an 8-year army veteran who served two tours in Iraq, had no problems admitting defeat, “I felt like I was starting to get in my groove. He just caught me with a really great shot at the right time. I knew his big punch was the right hook. I was working on keeping my hand up to block it. I dropped it at the wrong time and he got me. Obviously, this is going to set me back. I need to come back stronger. I hope that I can come back and fight someone that can help me move up the ranks.”

It was a little more than six months before this bout where Vasquez suffered his first defeat as a professional and despite the loss, was highly regarded coming into this bout with Collazo. While Vasquez is looking to take some time off and regroup Collazo is ready to fight again immediately. In the post-fight interview Collazo was asked about his next bout to which he responded, “There are a lot of great fights coming up in the welterweight division. I know Shawn Porter doesn’t have an opponent right now. I’m ready to get it on if he is.”

Collazo recently found out that Shawn Porter is the mix with setting up a fight with Andre Berto, so you can bet that he’s paying attention to the winner of that fight for his next bout.

How Casino Gambling Took an Impoverished Region from Rags to Riches

There are always going to be those who oppose the gambling industry in general, labeling it as an evil in the world that just leads to negative consequences for any area that embraces it. While gambling opponents claim that integrating gambling into a community brings with it crime and mayhem, Tunica is an example of how gambling saved a town from financially withering away. Until the early 1990’s, Tunica, Mississippi was actually one of the poorest regions in the United States. The residents were living in poverty, they endured open sewers and some of the county didn’t even have running water. The Sheriff’s department only had 9 employees total to provide law enforcement to the entire county, and the region’s public schools and other public buildings, as well as their roads were in disrepair. There was no good news to be had really. That is until gambling found its way to the region.

The first casino was opened in Tunica in the fall of 1992. Business boomed and within weeks the casino had more players and visitors than they could handle, resulting in lines out the door. In fact, the casino was charging an admission fee just to get in and visitors were gladly paying it. It is safe to say that gambling was an overnight sensation in Tunica. The casino industry has since grown into the third largest gambling region in the US, servicing close to 15 million visitors per year. Within a short time of the establishment of brick and mortar casinos in Tunica, the influx of revenue began positively impacting the area. In addition to the extensive job creation facilitated by the casinos themselves, business that were previously struggling and barely making it began to grow and expand, offering the people in the area more jobs as well. The financial boost in revenue was something that dramatically enhanced the quality of life for all Tunica county residents.

The region was able to make significant improvements which were desperately needed. Starting with road improvements and repairs made to the public schools, they were also able to improve the sewer system and provide running water throughout the county. They were able to increase the annual budget to their Sheriff’s department and increase their law enforcement staff from only 9 members to over 200. This was only the beginning of a new life being breathed into Tunica County and its residents. Next on the list of enhancements to the area came a stadium, an airport expansion to handle the influx of travelers to the gambling Mecca, an expo center, and most impressively, an eco park that cost them in excess of $20 million. That is a far cry from being the poorest spot in the US. Smaller businesses which were located in close proximity to the new casinos also experienced a boost in business, from restaurants to fitness centers and even the county museum.

Tunica is like the little engine that could, and when they finally reached their destination, they reaped the rewards by improving the lives of the people who had stayed and try to make it for so long in an impoverished area with little hope. What little hope they had, they turned into something big. So for all you gambling naysayers out there, perhaps you should be a little more open minded when discussing the prospects of gambling, both in brick and mortar locations and online gambling sites. Red blooded American adults are able to enjoy responsible and safe gambling entertainment without inviting crime bosses or criminals to the party. The cause and effect correlation of gambling to crime really has no solid ground anymore as evidenced by the good people of Tunica and the people who love to be a part of this rags to riches story.

Will Tunica online casino gambling take them even further up the riches ladder? Time will tell as the online industry is still in it’s infancy stage and states are still working out all the details with how to operate within the confines of the law.

The town of Tunica still faces devastating poverty and unemployment levels.

Tunica, Mississippi has been described as “America’s Ethiopia,” criticized on national news for its seeming “apartheid” school system and ranked as one of the nation’s poorest counties. Despite managing to strike deals with big-name casinos and all of the upscale businesses that come in alongside them, Tunica is still struggling with horrific levels of poverty and a lack of opportunity for a majority of its residents. In fact, a recent study on upward mobility found that a poor child in Tunica’s chances of moving up the socioeconomic ladder were lower than all but six other counties across the entire United States.

In the early 1990s, Tunica received the golden ticket out of the endless cycle of poverty and unemployment: an opportunity to become a shining, neon-lit casino destination. Since the advent of riverfront casino properties, upscale golf courses and posh restaurants, the county of Tunica has made over $760 million, which is absolutely unheard of for a place with only 10,000 people.

While this might seem like an uplifting, underdog story about a small town striking it rich, there is a dark and depressing side to this story.

From Boom to Bust

Despite the rare opportunity afforded to the town, very few of its residents received any benefits from Tunica’s sudden prosperity. Though there is disagreement as far as where Tunica failed its general population, the biggest issue seems to be what is considered a gross mismanagement of funds.

Rather than investing in the long-term security of the entire town, the county’s officials chose to take the majority of casino revenues and pour them into lavish wedding halls, a golf course designed by a PGA Tour pro, an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool and luxury tourist accommodations. Many believe that the casino revenues should have been equitably divided between promoting tourism and investing in funding for skills training, proper education and basic welfare programs to help pull the county out of the entrenched poverty it has been a victim of for so many decades.

A Success Story for Certain Social Circles

Linda Fay Engle-Harris, an elderly former teacher, has been very vocal about the issues in her hometown. She is just one of the many struggling residents and has always tried to manage her dire situation on her own. She was thrilled at the prospect of the county prospering because she thought it would mean better jobs, improved standards of living and a general uplifting of the area. However, after nearly three decades, the majority of Tunica has been left in a precarious economic situation.

Only 2.5 percent of the hundreds of millions in gambling profits was actually used for things like home renovations and other social programs to help the poor. The remainder was squandered on trying to boost the tourism for the area. Unfortunately, Tunica officials did not count on their era of prosperity being so short-lived. Once competing casino moved in and the economy took a downward turn, Tunica’s carefully crafted casino scene began to crumble.

“We Tend to Forget How Far We’ve Come”

Webster Franklin, who is the president and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that when asked about Tunica’s current situation. “In 1990, you couldn’t buy shoes in Tunica. There weren’t safe roads to travel on,” he says. While this may be true, and while the 30 percent poverty rate may look great compared to the pre-casino days of 56 percent, Tunica is still on par with the poorest, most troubled places in the nation.

The officials and residents who benefitted from Tunica’s brief stint of gambling prosperity may be able to say that the money was used with “good intentions,” but that doesn’t help the people in Tunica whose homes are still crumbling around them. One has to think that if online gambling were legalized in Mississippi, Tunica online casinos would help the city to prosper.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. has announced that they will be closing their largest Tunica, Mississippi location, Harrah’s, on June 2 of this year. Tunica’s largest casino resort property, Harrah’s currently employs approximately 1300 people who will all lose their jobs. The company indicated that a consistent decline in revenue over a long period of time rendered the closing inevitable. John Payne, president of Caesars Central Markets indicated that the decision was very difficult for them because of the many lives it will affect, however it was causing financial hardship on the brand and despite strong marketing efforts and support to the casino resort property, they were unable to turn the situation around.

Statements indicated that Caesars Entertainment was very concerned about assisting the employees of the Tunica Harrah’s location in finding jobs. They will be given preference at the other Tunica properties owned by the company, however at this time that only amounts to 80 open positions. They will also be given preference at the Las Vegas properties which are currently under development. They have indicated that they will do everything they can to assist employees in finding new jobs.

The Harrah’s property that is closing in Tunica includes a 14,000 square foot casino and a 1356 room hotel, as well as a golf course and some other attractions. All elements will be closing. Caesars has attempted to sell the property, however they were unable to find a suitable buyer. Their remaining two properties in Tunica, the Horseshoe and Roadhouse will stay open and will provide as many as 80 jobs to those employees currently working at Harrah’s.

Harrah’s may not be the only property that has had some cash flow problems as the Fitz Casino in Tunica recently sold to Full House Resorts. We can speculate that they also experienced revenue challenges and needed to unload the property. It is not clear whether or not the situation with Harrah’s closing is a reflection of an overall decline in the gambling market for that region, but it is likely a thought that is crossing the minds of those involved in the industry there.

Caesars is reportedly working with city officials in Tunica to assist them in finding an alternative use for the property until such time as it is sold. No indications were provided as to what the parties had in mind for the property’s facilities. While anyone can certainly understand the decision to close Harrah’s due to a lack of profitability, it is still a difficult development to swallow when you consider that a minimum of 1300 employees and their families will be affected. The gambling community certainly has their fingers crossed that Caesars will come through for these individuals in some way. Players will now need to turn to other brands for Tunica slots, blackjack, roulette and craps games.