Tunica Resorts, Mississippi
|Census-designated place & unincorporated community|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Tunica Resorts is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in northern Tunica County, Mississippi, north of the county seat of Tunica. The community was originally named Robinsonville, but the name was changed in 2003. Locals still refer to the town by this name. The community is situated mostly between the Mississippi River and U.S. Route 61.
The population as of 2010 census was 1,910. Tunica Resorts is the site of nine casino resorts, and at one time generated the third largest gambling revenues in the nation, after Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, but competition has increased in other locations, including properties owned by Native American tribes and operated on their reservations. The use of the name "Tunica" by the resorts, led to the name change from Robinsonville to make it easier for tourists to find the destination.
In the first half of the 19th century, this area was developed as cotton plantations, part of what was considered the Mississippi Delta extending north to Memphis and south to Vicksburg. It depended on enslaved labor. After emancipation, many African Americans continued to work in agriculture in this area. In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans migrated north from Mississippi to Chicago and other industrial cities in the Great Migration to leave the violence and oppression of the South, as well as the loss of jobs due to mechanization of agriculture. Population also declined in the county as railroads and highways drew off traffic from the river.
After 1995, gambling casinos and resorts were developed in the unincorporated community of Robinsonville, north of the county seat of Tunica. In a nod to riverboat gambling, to comply with state law, the casinos are built on floating platforms in the Mississippi River. Lacking the structure of an organized city or town, Tunica Resorts consists mainly of casinos and cotton fields, with few permanent residents living in the community.
Tunica Resorts has ranked as high as the third-largest casino-gambling destination in the United States, as measured by gaming revenue, behind Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Its casinos attract gamblers mainly from nearby Memphis, but also draw visitors from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Illinois and Kentucky. In the second decade of the 21st century, due to increased legalization of gambling in other states, including on Native American reservations, Tunica places sixth in gaming revenue, after the Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, Chicago, Connecticut, and Detroit.
The 2011 Mississippi River floods damaged casino resort buildings and infrastructure in this community. While the casinos float and escaped most damage, the hotels' towers and surrounding businesses are on land. Some of the hotels had major flooding on the lower floors, including the Harrah's Casino Tunica, which was under nearly six feet of water.
Infrastructure and housing
As of 2012, the town is home to nine casinos:
- Bally's Tunica
- Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel Tunica
- Gold Strike Casino Resort
- Harrah's Casino Tunica
- Hollywood Casino and Hotel
- Horseshoe Casino Tunica
- Resorts Casino Tunica
- Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall
- Tunica Roadhouse Casino & Hotel (formerly Sheraton Hotel and Casino)
At one time, eleven different casinos were operated in the community. Treasure Bay Casino closed, and the Isle of Capri (originally the first of three Harrah's locations in the area) was bought by the neighboring Sam's Town resort; it is used only for its hotel tower and parking garage.
The community is remarkable in that there is little infrastructure other than that which adjoins the casinos. Businesses other than the casinos include a small number of motels, convenience stores and fast food restaurants, along with an outlet-style shopping center, and the community's oldest business, the Hollywood Cafe, a blues club immortalized in the popular song, "Walking in Memphis," by Marc Cohn in 1991.
Small apartment complexes mainly occupied by casino workers are among the few dwellings found in Tunica Resorts. Outside of such structures — many built since 1990 — table-flat cotton fields mark much of the area, as was the case before the casinos came. The scene of high-rise hotels rising behind the cotton fields presents a peculiar visual contrast to the arriving tourist.
In May 2008, the board of directors of the Mid-South Fair announced that the annual event would move to a new site in Tunica Resorts, on U.S. 61 across from the Tunica Visitors Center. The first fair on the new site was scheduled for 2009. However, mainly because of weather but also because of the poor economy, the fair was instead held at the DeSoto Civic Center, and will continue to be until the new fairgrounds site is ready.
Tunica Resorts is protected by the North Tunica County Fire Protection District, a career fire department that was created in 1997. The department's equipment includes a 100-foot (31 m) Platform ladder truck (T-405), an Engine (E-4), and a Squad (S-4), which is staffed with a Fire Captain and five Firefighter/EMT's. Tunica Resorts has a class 7 insurance rating.
Beginning in 2007, some Tunica Resorts residents have tried to incorporate their community into a separate town government, rather than exist under the jurisdiction of Tunica County or move toward annexation into the town of Tunica. If Tunica Resorts incorporates, the new town government would be a direct beneficiary of casino tax revenue, enabling construction of municipal government offices. Depending on population and revenue growth, fire and police stations, a library and other public infrastructure could be other likely additions.
- Rudi Schiffer, "Heard it on the River", Casino City Times, 30 October 2003
- "Tunica Resorts", American Gaming Association,
- Jamel Major (5 May 2011). "Rising waters flood Tunica casinos". WMC-TV.com.
- Callahan, Jody (2008-05-18). "Mid-South Fair moving to Tunica". The Commercial Appeal.
- Thomas, Peter (2008-05-22). "County lands Mid-South Fair". The Tunica Times.
- Sheffield, Michael (2008-05-20). "Tunica new home of Mid-South Fair starting in 2009". Memphis Business Journal.
- "header_6337099_.jpg." Robinsonville Elementary School. Retrieved on August 11, 2011. "7734 Old Hwy 61 North Robinsonville, MS 38664"
Media related to Tunica Resorts, Mississippi at Wikimedia Commons