This week’s announcement that Tunica Roadhouse casino will be closing gaming operations has people in Tunica wondering about the future of the area’s economy. Tunica Roadhouse’s gambling area is closing but the hotel will remain open.
It and the Horseshoe Casino, which is located next door, are owned by Caesars Entertainment.
The closing of the Tunica Roadhouse is a concern to the owner of the nearby Hollywood restaurant.
“Anytime you lose business, you hate it. We need as much business as we can, anything,” said Bill Lee.
The roadhouse has more than 375 gaming employees. We’re told the majority will be reassigned to the Horseshoe but about 125 will lose their jobs.
Webster Franklin, the head of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau, hopes the empty gaming space will be used for something else.
“I’m hopeful Caesars and their executives will get together and look for alternatives. I’m not sure what that might be, but I think there are plenty,” said Franklin.
Franklin says competition from other parts of the country is a factor in the declining Tunica gaming market. Revenues are about half of what they used to be.
“The model has gone from destination gaming, which we were set up to be, to convenience gaming,” said Franklin.
Less gaming revenue means less money for Tunica County. Franklin says that’s why Mississippi State is doing a study of the Tunica gaming industry and will make recommendations for the future.
“So the last 25 years we’ve seen tremendous growth. We’ve gone from cotton fields to a thriving destination that is welcoming millions of people each and every year,” says Franklin.
So, is it time for the county to diversify and become less dependent on the gaming industry?
“Well sure, anybody needs to diversify to survive,” said Franklin.
“I would love to see some more family-oriented businesses. Some stuff for the kids to do and for the families to come on vacation,” said Lee.