Opinions differ on Tunica gambling's benefit to Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

Opinions differ on Tunica gambling's benefit to Memphis

While places like Atlantic City are down in gaming revenue, Mississippi leaders are announcing record numbers for 2007. The Memphis area certainly contributed to that, but is Tunica hurting or helping Memphis' bottom line? The answer depends on who you ask. 

Tennessee State Representative Joe Towns, who represents Memphis and parts of Shelby County in Nashville, says too much money is going south.

"We're losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year going to Tunica," he said Monday.
Towns would like to see voters in Memphis determine whether gaming should come to the Bluff City.

"The rest of the state may not be involved in that, but the citizens want the vote," Towns said. "I would certainly be one hundred percent for that- allowing them to vote on whether or not we were able to do something of that nature."
An estimated $350 million from the Memphis area was played in Tunica casinos in 2007. Still, University of Memphis Professor Dr. Jeff Wallace insists Tunica casinos are bringing more money to the Memphis area at restaurants, hotels, and attractions like Beale Street.

"I would guess four hundred to five hundred million (is) coming back," he said.
Wallace, a research professor at the University of Memphis, claims Memphis benefits with jobs and added tourism.

"Beale Street and the casinos in Tunica tend to compliment each other as a draw," he said. "I would say that we see some tourism here in Memphis that comes here strictly because there are casinos in Tunica."

Casinos bringing more money from out of state, and bringing with it more controversy.

Leaders in Memphis have pushed to bring gaming to the Bluff City. Unfortunately for them, it would have to take lawmakers in Nashville to change state laws, and right now, that appears to be a long way off.

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