You may have heard of Tunica, MS as a town of southern gambling. Yes, the town has a Vegas style atmosphere and has some of the most popular casinos around the nation. That said, there is more to the story of Tunica. The story is quite literally a rags to riches fable about a town that won the jackpot. Let’s consider some recent Tunica history.
Tunica begin in the late 1800s and continued to go from bad to worse. Eventually it earned a reputation as a poverty-stricken town, with open sewers, poor residents, and a nasty reputation nationwide. (You know, once Jesse Jackson trashes you, things must be going badly.) The town deservedly had this reputation up until the early 1990s. At that point, the state passed legislation that would introduce casinos into certain communities around the Mississippi River. Tunica was one of the few towns to approve the idea.
The first casino in Tunica opened in October of 1992. Within weeks, the casinos were packing in big business. Lines were forming, and no one even cared that the casino charged an admission. Tunica facts today show that nearly 15 million visitors grace these casinos with their presence every year. Today these casinos still stand as glitzy, full service casinos.
More town improvements were made upon the success of the casinos. The two-lane highway that leads to the gambling establishments were deemed too narrow for the heavy flow of traffic. It was so over-crowded that even ambulances were stuck in traffic! Eventually the town made the roads wider to provide easier access. In addition, the city built vital arteries, an improved sewer system, running water and doubled the annual budget of the sheriff’s department. From nine people, the sheriff’s department grew to 200. The poorest county in Mississippi quickly became one of the richest counties in the state.
Other additions included an airport expansion, the building of a 20 million dollar plus eco-park, a stadium and an expo center. Even among smaller businesses, like the Tunica County Museum, the Family Health and Fitness Center, and numerous restaurants around the casinos, we see a major improvement.
Reading about Tunica, MS history makes you appreciate the town, the townspeople, and the very concept of hope. It was as if this little town-the poorest in the state-suddenly won a jackpot ticket that would change its fate forever. You can more about Tunica’s history and about its new attractions by visiting a local museum!