Associated Press / - TUNICA, MS - Ten years ago, if outsiders even
gave it a thought at all, they knew this rural stretch of northern
Mississippi only for the blues and its reputation as one of the nation's
most chronically depressed places.
But that all changed in 1992, when Tunica was transformed by casino
gambling into a bustling entertainment hot spot, with 10 riverboat
casinos, flashy hotels, restaurants and concert halls.
When casinos first started moving into Tunica, Memphis was worried.
City leaders envisioned millions of dollars from tourists and residents
flowing to Tunica and away from Memphis.
But Denise Taylor of the Memphis Convention and Visitor's Bureau said
Tunica has helped the city draw tourists, since many of Tunica's visitors
also come to Memphis.
"It's one more attraction we can offer people, especially for
international visitors who tend to tour by an entire region rather
than a single location," she said.
Mississippi approved casino gaming in 1990, but took a different approach
than most other states.
Some states limit the number of casinos they will accept as well as
the amounts of money gamblers can bet. Some require riverboats to
cast off from shore before gaming can begin.
Mississippi allows 24-hour-a-day gambling on docked boats with no
bet limits. There is no limit on the number of casinos the state will
permit. The market decides that.
of Tunica casinos
casino, Splash, opened in October 1992. It was a modest affair built
on a barge that once held a floating restaurant.
It offered slot machines, table games and all the other standard
casino attractions. It was an instant hit.
Splash chose Tunica County because it is the closest town to Memphis
that allows casino gambling. Memphis is the largest city on the
Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Louis, and Tennessee
does not allow gambling.
Tunica got its second casino, Lady Luck, in 1993. As more casinos
arrived, they began adding hotels, concert halls and shops.
The casinos are called riverboats, but they're boats in name only.
While the gambling halls sit in slips cut into the banks of the
Mississippi River, their attached hotels and other support businesses
are on land.
When Splash opened its doors, Tunica County had an annual budget
of $3.5 million, barely enough to
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City Expands in Auckland
NEW ZEALAND - Sky City wants to take over the management of
The Edge, giving the casino operator a virtual monopoly of
entertainment facilities in central Auckland.
of a master plan to its expand gambling facilities and build
new convention facilities in Auckland, New Zealand, Sky City
is ready to take over management of The Edge, which includes
Aotea Centre, the Auckland Town Hall and Civic Theater.
proposes to manage The Edge and construct a $40- to $60-million
convention center, giving the casino operator a virtual monopoly
of entertainment facilities in central Auckland.
studies agree that Auckland is losing millions to other cities
by not having a convention center that can comfortably take
up to 2500 delegates; so in exchange for expanding conference
facilities, the Casino Control Authority would permit Sky
City to add new gaming tables and gaming machines.
believes it can make efficiency gains from running both The
Edge and its own facilities, which include the Sky City Auckland
gaming and entertainment complex, while helping to offset
Auckland City Councils subsidy costs currently budgeted
at $2 million this year.