TUNICA, MS (WMC) - In recent years, Tunica casinos have struggled, but not this year.
Representatives with Tunica County Convention and Visitors Bureau said major changes had infused new energy, but they are keeping an eye on election day for one possible change in Arkansas.
Casinos in Tunica are hoping the new stretch of interstate 269 opens up new business.
“It’s been anticipated here for years!” said Webster Franklin, President and CEO of Tunica County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Not too long ago, Tunica County casinos were struggling for business. Harrah’s Casino closed in 2014.
But Franklin said 2018 has been a huge success for the local casinos. Since August, Tunica casinos have offered sports betting after it was legalized this summer by the Supreme Court.
“Sports betting has been great so far,” Franklin said. “It’s still early but we’re seeing a younger demographic coming into the market.”
The new stretch of I-269 that opened last Friday after years of construction also connects potential customers in the suburbs of Memphis with a direct path to Tunica.
“A lot of people out in the Germantown area might now have come to Tunica for quite some time,” Franklin said. “We have great entertainment, great restaurants and now there are no stoplights! Four lane access makes it a lot easier, a lot safer.”
A pitfall may lay ahead on this rosy year. Tunica Casinos are watching the results from Arkansas Issue 4 very closely.
If approved on election day, the new law would allow four new true casinos in Arkansas, including one at Southland Park in West Memphis, right outside Tunica’s major customer market.
“I’m confident that the corporations that we have here will compete with anyone that’s out there,” Franklin said. “We got a great product and people are coming here to enjoy it, that’s what counts.”