Issue 82
April 2 - 8, 2002
Volume 3
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News
Tunica Casinos Change Face of Rural Mississippi

Sky City Expands in Auckland

Las Vegas Sands Moves to Net Gaming

Alabama-Coushattas To Fight for Texas ''Entertainment Center''

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Tunica Casinos Change Face of Rural Mississippi

/The 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.

Grand Casino Tunica 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.

History of Tunica casinos

Tunica's first 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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Sky City Expands in Auckland

Sky City's master plan includes running the Civic Theatre, town hall and Aotea Centre.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.

As part 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.

Sky City 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.

Numerous 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.

Sky City 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 Council’s subsidy costs currently budgeted at $2 million this year.

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