Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caesar's closing Harrah's Tunica Casino. Moak speaks out.

Rumors have been circulating for quite some time about a possible closing of Harrah's in Tunica. Caesar's pulled the plug today. Caesar's reported on its website:

"After exploring every other viable alternative, we have come to the difficult but necessary conclusion to close Harrah's Tunica in an effort to appropriately position our business for the current market opportunity and ensure the long-term viability of our remaining operations in the vicinity," said John Payne, President of Central Markets and Partnership Development. "We are extremely appreciative of the enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment made by the employees of Harrah's Tunica to provide outstanding service to our customers. We are determined to provide them with resources to help them in this transition."

Caesars is committed to the Tunica area, where it operates Horseshoe Tunica, which is currently being upgraded. The company also operates the Tunica Roadhouse Hotel and Casino. The company plans to collaborate with local officials to identify alternative uses for the facility and site.

Caesars Entertainment will work hard to find new positions for as many Harrah's Tunica employees as possible. They will receive preference at other Caesars Entertainment properties, including the two remaining Caesars properties in the Tunica area, and projects under development in Las Vegas.

Harrah's Tunica will remain fully operational until its closure and will honor all room reservations and events until that time. Customers with reservations after June 1 will receive assistance in finding alternate accommodations. Press release

Approximately 1,300 jobs will be affected by the closure.  Representative Bobby Moak (D-Annandale) issued the following press release:

Moak Statement on Closure of Harrah’s Casino
Mississippi House Democratic Caucus Press
Contact:          Rep. Bobby Moak (601) 668-4194
March 26, 2014
Jackson, MS- Today Harrah’s announced they are closing their casino in the Tunica market. This is a loss of Thirteen-Hundred (1300) Mississippi jobs, not to mention a tremendous blow to the credibility and future viability of our Mississippi gaming market. Casinos are a legal business in our state. They account for over twenty-five thousand direct jobs and, in particular, are the main reason Tunica was able to remove itself as one of the poorest counties in the nation.
Leadership in our state has refused to afford this vital industry the tax incentives and credits it offers to existing businesses or even those used to lure in new industries. We are now paying the price for this with the loss of jobs and tax revenues to local governments and the state. Contrary to popular belief, casinos are not immune to both economic downturns and the dramatic impact of the growth of out-of-state gaming operations in neighboring states such as Arkansas.  We are no longer the only game in town.  Regional gaming competition is not a phenomena that ends in Tunica, either.  It is one of the most dangerous threats to the Mississippi gaming markets and lurks around the corner in states like Alabama, Florida and beyond.
No taxpayer funds are expended when a new casino enters our Mississippi market and creating, on average, 1,500 good-paying jobs. In return for their investment, Mississippi does not treat this industry as others within our borders.  Mississippi offers no credit for hotel renovations or infrastructure, no credit for restaurant construction/improvements and does not even allow front line employee training, as other businesses are allowed to do, at the community college level - even though they pay taxes to support the community college system.
There is lacking a vision by Mississippi leadership to look at other jurisdictions and implement sound business investment incentives to take care of the casino industry that now resides in our state and foster growth and reinvestment by existing operators. With the closure of Harrah’s Tunica, we are seeing what happens when we exclude this industry from our overall state business investment model.
This industry must be allowed the opportunity to develop assets that not only help their bottom line, but state coffers as well. It has been almost 3 years since the federal government opened the door to internet gaming at the state level. Mississippi has refused to even consider allowing this to be developed in our state.  While I am not asserting that internet gaming is the silver bullet that will allow gaming in Mississippi to regain its foothold, there is no doubt that it is but one tool of many that could be effectively employed to increase the attractiveness of this market to gaming-centric tourists.  Harrah’s is a leader in the internet gaming effort in the halls of Congress and states around the nation.  We have continually shut the door on them and others who have a broader vision as to how this industry will operate in the future. 
In FY 2009 Mississippi was 3rd in the nation in gaming in terms of gross gaming revenue – we are now 8th. Gaming tax revenues have dropped from 172.4 million to 130 million (estimate) during the same time period. When a new gaming operation seeks to move into a state, they look for a fair tax environment and stable government leadership.  We have done nothing in the last three years to help our Mississippi gaming industry  compete in a global marketing environment.


Big Daddy said...

Thoughts and prayers for all the people who're losing their jobs...

Anonymous said...

Will the area return to Sugar Ditch or will Bennie save it somehow. How about a union?

Anonymous said...

So, the representative from Annandale wants us constituents to cough up more tax dollars to subsidize jobs in a money-losing business in Tunica?

Thanks for playing - next contestant, please!

Anonymous said...

Arkansas commercials not to blame, right?

Anonymous said...

If you fiddle with the devil, don't be surprised at the song he picks.

Money for the schools said...

Perhaps we should legalize brothels (only along the River & Coast though).

Maybe the first could be established in Tunica. Bring in some Nevada consultants and open the "Sugar Ditch Bunny Ranch"

Anonymous said...

Moak is concerned that he may lose a comp at one of the gambling houses. He didn't mention market saturation or the economy; job losses, inflation, etc. Not to mention that the industry in Ms. is sub-government, i.e., the 10% in taxes the state skims off the top. How many Mississippians have stock in a gambling concern, except for the bricks they've bought through their losses? Hell, the politicos are laughing all the way to the bank. The casinos are "private" enterprises. Let them manage their own budgets and decisions, win, lose, or draw.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone quote the Bible where it states that gambling is a sin?

Anonymous said...

Moak worried about losing a comp?? Hell, he's thinking that if the Dems could take back the House he could become chairman again, and it would be one less casino to shake down for his 'miscellaneous living expenses' - you know, they are quite high especially since he has to maintain that rental property down in Franklin County while he resides in Annadale.

Anonymous said...

As someone who used to enjoy going to gamble with friends for a monthly outing, we noticed the odds changing so that one of us coming home with a few bucks went from occasional to never.

The food wasn't as good in the buffets or restaurants as they had been.

The table minimums went up so there were few tables available for those who like to make small bets to extend our time at the table. So, we reached our limits quickly.

The casinos we had enjoyed were deteriorating and clearly not being well maintained.

And, with the deterioration of rooms, service and food, a casino was off the list as a romantic , exciting overnight or weekend get away with spouse.

The stores became cheap and uninteresting so shopping was no longer part of the experience.

There are still some nice casinos on the coast, but if you can't have a good time while losing your money, it's no longer entertainment and only for hard core gamblers.

I'm not suggesting those are the reasons Harrah's closed. They are reasons I've heard quite often, however, to explain why a day or overnight trip to a casino is no longer on anyone's list of fun activities.

Anonymous said...

I recently had the misfortune of attending a conference at this casino. When we arrived at our room it was filthy and the bed had dirty sheets and food everywhere. We called the front desk and they assured us someone would be right up. My wife and I went to dinner and returned to find that nothing had changed. We called again, and after a half hour of waiting I really started raising hell. Finally a housekeeper arrived with a surly attitude. It was very awkward having someone change the bed sheets who looked at us like she wanted to kill us the entire time. Several others in our group reported a similar experience. I would never return under any circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Never bitch at a waiter before your food is served and never bitch at the hotel maid when she is about to go into your bathroom or make up your bed.

PS: What's the Bible got to do with this discussion, 4:47?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 6:50 PM. My heart sinks at the thought of folks loosing their job.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but notice that they blame a rise in market competition in the first paragraph and they note their ownership & management of three properties in Tunica alone.

Anonymous said...

7:44 a.m. said it best. I have been going for years and it has been a steady decline of things deteriorating. Hotels and casinos are run down and not being cleaned well at all...on top of can no longer even play slots for awhile...they just take and take and there are no jackpots to be seen. The buffets no longer even open for breakfast. It used to be so much fun...but I have decided to find somewhere else to go. Tunica is a thing of the past if you want someplace "nice" to go. So sad. I think Harrahs needs to look at their management. Cleanliness and politeness would really go a long way. Instead the workers are rude and you are lucky if you can get a response at all from them.

Anonymous said...

Anyone counting how many jobs are being lost during the current administration? 500+ Ingalls Gulfport, ? Cooper Tires, ??? Kior...haven't seen any Bryant /Frontier spin on these.

Ophelia said...

As one who loathes the very thought of casinos, and all the tawdry, sad, lowest-common-denominator denizens they lure like flies to manure, I can only say I wish the accursed things would all topple right into the bodies of water they lurk next to.

Anonymous said...

More bad news for FEEL - MS jobless numbers rising

Mississippi had nearly 94,000 unemployed people in February, down by more than 1,000 from January and down from 118,000 in February 2013. The labor force also fell slightly, but less than the number of unemployed people.

Across Mississippi’s 82 counties, Rankin County had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.8 percent, while Tunica County had the highest rate at 17.3 percent. Local unemployment rates, which aren’t adjusted for normal seasonal variation, rose in 40 counties from January to February, were level in 11 counties and fell in 31 counties.

Shadyal said...

Harrah's / Ceasers has bought up so many gamblin' joints this could very well be a matter of cleaning up excess inventory….back next to Gold Stike they've got Road House and Horse shoe…all in a row….I'm thinking it's a simple matter of 2 being enough for them in Tunica….(they only have one on the coast)…seems to me the current Harrah's would make a great convention hall with the possibility of slot machines stuck in the corners…too bad we can't pay the shortage at the Jackson convention center that way!

Anonymous said...

1:48 How about we tweak the "Two Rivers" plan so the Pearl floods, then the Convention Center becomes "coastal", and voila - a new convention site!

Anonymous said...

12:20 - I fail to see how wasting one's money at a casino is more immoral and despicable than wasting one's money at a shoe store or a concert.

Never cared for gambling, myself, but some people seem to like it. I don't see why I should treat them or the casino as reprehensible.

If luring "tawdry, sad, lowest-common-denominator denizens" is a problem, then I guess we'd better close Walmart. And several churches.

Ophelia said...

Yes, I agree, 3:39. Let's herd the WalMartians and off-brand churchie zealots right there into the oven with the casino proles. I'm betting there's a LOT of overlap in those categories...

Anonymous said...

Break Break,
Tunica has been in steady decline long before the Guv was in office. This has much more to do with the town taking on debt banking on casino revenues rising or at least staying close to par. The fact is the economy hit casino's hard EVERYWHERE, (see coast, and Margaritaville's shrinking plans....) and Tunica was by no means exempt.
While I am not a fan of gambling, this problem has 0 to do with the Governor, and if you want to pin things on him there are other things an educated mind could find but not this.

Anonymous said...

Call it a resort area and build a mall with taxpayer money. That fixes most local problems.

Anonymous said...

It took 23 years and some money was made...but it's sad that Tunica is nearly right back where it was for those 1300 folks now out of a job
23 years ago. The Hard Rock, Island View, Beau Rivage...and a very few others are carrying the rest. Other than that we are any town USA. 17.8% unemployment is pitiful for Tunica

Anonymous said...

Moak sure is using a lot of weasel words to tell us he wants taxpayers to bail out the casinos. What a sleaze.

Anonymous said...

Harrah's could sell the damned thing instead of close it, but they'd rather put 1,500 people out of work than have a new competitor located between their other two casinos (Horseshoe and Roadhouse) and Memphis. Screw 'em.

Ophelia said...

I'm a bit puzzled that the words "moral," "devil," and "Bible" are peppered into what is a business discussion. Gambling (or, "gaming," as its pushers prefer to call it, making it sound more like a jolly cricket match than a sleazy way to waste one's paycheck) is possibly a vice, yes, but no worse, nor less profitable, than drinking or overeating. Yet these two activities are not illegal, and many a shekel has been made servicing them. I think most intelligent people object to casinos because they are tacky, and ruin a pretty waterscape---not because Jesus/Moses frowned on the idea. Though they probably would have. Hey!---*lightbulb!*---turn that Tunica Palais de Crap into---a---CHURCH! the 'Render Unto Caesar's' Praise-Plex," maybe. Or a rehab center: "Harrah the Dog".

Anonymous said...

And how typical for a hypocrite like Moak to carry the water for Harrah's and blame Mississippi taxpayers. "Friend of the Little Man . . ."

Anonymous said...

How is what Moak is proposing any different than government help other businesses get from the state all the time? Anybody notice Viking is getting another $25 million this year on top of all the prior state help that has been given? I don't hear y'all raising hell about that.

Anonymous said...

What a shill.

Anonymous said...

Hello, business is bad because they closed the Paula Dean resturant. Many of us boycotted after the closing.

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