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Casino Gambling Southern Style


by Guide Bill Burton

Tunica

For the last few years I have been hearing great reviews about Tunica Mississippi as a gaming destination. It is currently the country's third largest behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City. One common remark I constantly heard was that in Tunica you were treated with true "Southern Hospitality."

I had been planning on visiting Tunica to see for myself. When my friend, author Frank Scoblete invited me to join him for some seminars he was conducting at Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, I accepted his offer immediately. It would give me a chance to check out the place and see if it was as friendly as everyone says it is. I was not disappointed with what I experienced.

The attitude of the casino personnel can best be described as "player friendly." In all the contacts I had with the casino employees each one of them seemed to go out of their way to make the players feel comfortable. I observed this at the five-dollar tables as well as the higher limit tables. Speaking of limits. There are plenty of tables available to lower limit players and the table limits do not increase forcing players to either increase their bets or leave the game as they do in other places. Players seeking lower limits can find plenty of five-dollar tables open on Friday and Saturday night.

The table games are good. Blackjack players can find double deck games in all denominations. Craps players can get 10x odds and higher in some places. Full pay video poker is a little harder to find. There are some casinos offering 9/6 Jacks or Better but others have shorter pay tables. You really have to look around. Slot player will enjoy everything from a nickel machine up to the large denomination high roller machines.

There are ten casinos to chose from in Tunica. They are spread out over several miles but some are grouped in walking distance to each other.  See Map. A car or shuttle bus is need to go from one area to the next. Combined the casinos have 633,000 square feet of gaming space which houses 515 table games and over 17,000 slot machines. There is a little something for everyone no matter what game you enjoy to play.

The actual casino gaming space must be located on water to meet the States gaming regulations for "Riverboat Casinos". Instead of boats they are actually huge barges that are moored in the water. Most of these seem to consist of big ponds filled with Mississippi River water. You can't tell when you cross over from the land-based hotel onto the "floating" casino floor.

Before casino gambling was legalized, Tunica County was one of the poorest counties in the United States. Since the casino boom there has been a considerable increase in the per capita income. The influx of money generated by the casinos has been a godsend to this once desolate land of cotton fields. The area is growing in leaps and bounds. The Gold Strike is the tallest structure in Mississippi. There are presently over 6,000 hotel rooms spread amongst the casinos. A brand new 100,000 square foot exposition center is slated to open this July. There is still much expansion going on at the casinos. Sam's Town is in the middle of a 21 million-dollar renovation that will include creation of the largest state-of-the-art buffet in the area, addition to the Atrium and a full service RV park on the property. Next door the Isle of Capri plans to construct a 14 million-dollar Entertainment Center featuring two adjacent theaters under one roof.

Las Vegas style entertainment has made its way to Tunica. This is partly due to the fact that most of the casinos are owned by several of the same corporations that own casinos in Las Vegas. They have been bringing in their expertise to transform the area into the world class destination that it has become.

All of the casinos have joined together in a remarkable concept to market all the casinos as a resort destination rather than focusing solely on individual efforts. There have been many joint promotions among the casino that have benefited the entire area. Recently the first World Poker Open was held in Tunica taking place in the Horseshoe and the Gold Strike next door. The cross-promotion also includes shuttle between various casinos to make it easier for guest to visit surrounding properties.

Casino Gambling mixed with Southern Hospitality is a winning combination. If you would like to try a refreshing new gaming vacation, I would highly recommend a trip to Tunica Mississippi.

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