Lavish Monuments to gambling, a gleaming high rise tower, an irish medieval Castle, an art deco movie house- rose up in the cotton and rice fields, flooding the improvised Mississippi delta County with Tourists, money and jobs.
Tunica was one of the nation’s biggest gambling meccas, ranking third after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But Casino revenue in the area has plummeted in the past decade as major casino markets have exploded in dozen of cities from Chicago to New Orleans. Tunica Casinos now employ about 4,000 workers, less than a third than of what they did at their peak.
“I am so tired of being laid off,” Hall said earlier this month as he picked up a Pack of Newport cigarettes from a gas station on Casino Strip Resort Boulevard.
Inside the Roadhouse, a western Saloon themed casino improbably positioned within a faux Bavarian Castle with a moat, the blackjack and poker tables are dim and without dealers. In a whir of giddy beeps and chimes, just a smattering of players tap buttons and pull levers on Penny Slots and Video Poker Machines.
“There’s no future in casinos,” Dondrell McKay a 30 year old security guard, said as he stood at a Roadhouse Entrance, monitoring an empty hallway.
“I see Tunica as a beacon for the rest of the delta,” said Charles Finkley Jr. President of Tunica County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, noting that the county is better off than neighbouring Quitman County, which has no gambling and still has 40 percent of residents living In Poverty.