Tunica Gaming Strong Despite Harrah’s Closure

Although Harrah's Casino Hotel (l.) in Tunica closed last year the gaming industry there is "vibrant," said Tunica County Administrator Michael Thompson. Most of the 1,300 Harrah's employees found jobs in other casinos. But the barges and buildings will be dismantled soon, leaving a $15 million hole in property taxes.

The casino industry in Tunica, Mississippi is strong, despite the closure of Harrah’s Casino Hotel last year, said Tunica County Administrator Michael Thompson. “The casino industry is going in transition here in Tunica County. We still have eight casinos. We still have a vibrant dense population of casinos and the ability for people to come and enjoy themselves and gamble,” Thompson said.

Harrah’s operated for 20 years before it closed last year, forcing 1,300 out of their jobs. However, John Leboeuf, director of the Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending, said although the closing of Harrah’s was a shock, people found jobs at other area casinos and Crescent graduates also located employment. “It was a bad year for the casino industry. But 2014 was our most successful year placing our students in the casinos,” Leboeuf said.

In addition, the Tunica Chamber of Commerce received a $2 million federal grant to help people transition into other employment.

Thompson noted although former Harrah’s employees were able to find work, within the next few months the Harrah’s barges and buildings will be dismantled, leading to a loss of county property taxes. “The value of that will no longer be on our tax rolls. We will see a significant decrease in our assessed property value to the tune of $15 million,” he said.