MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The battle is heating up for your gambling dollars. According to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, gross revenues decreased across that state for the third straight month in October.
A rejuvenated Southland Park in West Memphis, Arkansas is cited as a possible cause for revenue declines in Tunica, Mississippi.
Regional President R. Scott Barber of Caesar’s Entertainment Mid-South, has been quoted as saying of Tunica: “For lack of a better term, it’s suffering from a nothing-new syndrome.”
Meanwhile at Southland Park in West Memphis, a lot of things are new after the completion of a major renovation.
“We’re going gangbusters,” said Southland Park General Manager Troy Keeping.
Thanks to a new renovation, like a steakhouse, buffet, live greyhound racing and more, business is booming at Southland Park in West Memphis. But there is, perhaps, a more important reason.
"We’re kind of the quick, convenient alternative,” Keeping told abc24.com.
Tunica, Mississippi acknowledges that geographic advantage.
“Southland is competition here locally,” said Webster Franklin, President of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s the closest competition.”
For Christina Todd, who was a Southland regular even before the renovation, distance is very important. “It’s close by where I live,” she said.
Frank Potiar agrees. “I’d rather come here because it is a lot closer to my home.”
So while battling decreasing revenues, increasing competition and the map, Tunica commissioned a new study that indicated a need to diversify.
“We need that big something,” said Franklin, “for instance, a water park.”
Tunica is working with the state to make those things happen. In the meantime, Southland is pressing its built-in advantage.
“When you look at the Tunica marketplace,” said Keeping, “you have to really want to go there.”
“We’ve done all we can from an infrastructure standpoint to make sure that it’s easy for people to get here,” Webster told abc24.com.
For now, in a down economy, the competition exists not only at the gaming tables, but also among those pushing for your business.
“We have a little bit of everything,” said Keeping, “plus we’re a lot closer than our competition to downtown Memphis.”
“I think the Memphis market looks at us as a smaller getaway,” Franklin said, “where they look at Southland as convenience.”
“I’d rather come here,” said Potiar.
Both Tunica and Southland pump a lot of bucks into their local economies. Southland employs 650 people, and last year had an economic impact of $70 million in the area.
Tunica has added $1.4 billion to Mississippi’s general fund over the past twenty years.