Tunica Resorts, Mississippi
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Tunica Resorts is an unincorporated community located 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.
Tunica Resorts is, as the name implies, home to nine casino resorts. The use of the name "Tunica" by the resorts, despite the fact that since 1995 they were all located in Robinsonville and not Tunica proper, led to the name change to reduce confusion by tourists. 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. Despite this, 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. Recently, due to increased legalization of gambling in other states, Tunica places sixth in gaming revenue, after the Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, Chicago, Connecticut, and Detroit.
In 2011, during the 2011 Mississippi River floods, the community was heavily affected. While the casinos themselves float on water to comply with state law and thus were not seriously affected, the hotels' towers and surrounding businesses are on land. Thus 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.
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 neighboring Sam's Town and used only for its hotel tower and parking garage.
Infrastructure and housing
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. Indeed, 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, libraries and other public infrastructure could be other likely additions.
- Rudi Schiffer, Casino City Times, Heard it on the River, October 30, 2003
- American Gaming Association, http://www.kypost.com/content/middleblue3/story/Tunica-Holds-Tight/RAiroh9bkk6C8I1TB4BklQ.cspx
- 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