Caesars Entertainment Corp. has announced plans to close Harrah’s Tunica casino, in early June, as a direct result of dwindling business in the area
The move comes after significant “declines in business levels in the area stemming from increased competition.”
Gambling revenue in the Tunica dropped more than 25% from 2008, from $1.1 billion to $826 million. Visitor count for that area is also down nearly 61 percent.
In a gambling news release, Caesars said it remains “committed to the Tunica area,” and will continue other operations there. Harrah’s Tunica currently employs about 1,300 people, who will be relocated if possible.
Attempts to sell the casino were unsuccessful, but the company will continue to try up to the closing date.
Future state assistance
State and casino officials have warned that the state’s industry is having problems, particularly in the Tunica-area. The market hasn’t recovered since casinos were shut due to flooding in 2011.
Although the economy is improving, neighboring states are siphoning Mississippi’s business and more competition looks likely.
Religion still has an impact on American gambling laws. Republican state Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, said that Mississippi, a Bible-Belt state, has always had an uneasy relationship with casinos but may have to consider helping.
“The state is going to have to, at some time, look at them as being a legitimate business and may have to help them like we do others,” Bennett said.
Webster Franklin, director of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau added: “We don’t treat the gaming industry the way we treat every other industry in our state”.
State help may arrive in the future, likely too late for Harrah’s Tunica.