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Resorts Casino Tunica to close June 30

By Updated: April 17, 2019 3:12 AM CT | Published: April 16, 2019 11:00 PM CT

Resorts Casino Tunica is shutting down June 30, with its owner citing “increased competition from recent gaming expansion in Arkansas” among the reasons.

Penn National Gaming Inc. announced Tuesday it plans to close Resorts Tunica – one of three Tunica casinos it owns – June 30, pending regulatory approval. The company bought the operations of Resorts Tunica, along with Bally’s Casino Tunica (now renamed 1st Jackpot), in March 2017 and leases the underlying property from Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc.

The Pennsylvania-based gaming company also owns Hollywood Casino Tunica, located adjacent to Resorts.

“With our acquisition of Resorts Casino as part of the two-property deal, we knew we were acquiring an aging barge in need of significant capital improvements,” Al Britton, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn National, said in a statement. Under state law, all Tunica casinos are built on barges.

“While we did everything in our control to keep the property profitable over the last two years, increased competition from recent gaming expansion in Arkansas continues to drive the property’s business volumes lower,” Britton said. “After exploring all viable alternatives, we are left with the difficult decision to close the business.”

Resorts operated 765 slot machines and four table games – the fewest among North Mississippi casinos – in February, according to the most recent data available from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

The closure will affect nearly 200 Resorts employees. “We’ll be seeking opportunities for these team members at our two other properties in Tunica, other area resorts, or at one of our other 39 properties across the country,” Britton said in the statement.

This marks the second Tunica casino closure this year. Roadhouse Casino, owned by Caesar’s Entertainment Corp., shut down its gaming operations Jan. 31 because of “persistent declines in business levels in the area stemming from increased competition.” The Tunica Roadhouse hotel remains open.


Wayne Risher: Roadhouse Casino closing probably won't be Tunica's last


Resorts opened in 1994 as Southern Belle Casino but closed just six months later when its developers filed for bankruptcy. It remained closed for nearly two years before reopening as Harrah's Tunica Mardi Gras Casino in 1996. It was rebranded as Resorts when Harrah's sold it in 2005. 

Penn's announcement comes just two weeks after two Arkansas racetracks – Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs – launched live table games. Both tracks have offered electronic gambling for years, but Arkansas voters approved a statewide referendum in November that paved the way for table games at those facilities as well as two other casinos that have yet to be built in the state.


Wayne Risher: Southland Casino Racing launches live gambling with early bird crowd


Both Southland and Oaklawn targeted Tunica in their hiring efforts ahead of the April 1 launch.

Southland's owner, Delaware North Corp., is planning a $250 million expansion that includes a 300-room hotel and 100,000 square feet of new gaming space. The company tentatively plans to break ground in late April or May.

Topics

Resorts Casino Tunica Penn National Gaming Tunica

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