TUNICA, MS – The experts tell us the economy is improving, but try telling that to the 84 Tunica casino employees who just lost their jobs. Fitzgerald’s Casino announced the layoffs Tuesday.
Some believe it's a sign of what's to come, while others believe that in the long run, the gaming industry will be fine.
“Look, gaming is down,” said Webster Franklin, the president of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The last couple of years,” said Allen Godfrey, “the gaming industry as a whole in Mississippi has been down a little bit.”
Godfrey is the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
In a written statement, Fitzgerald's said, “The management team of Fitz Casino & Hotel Tunica has decided to implement a reduction in workforce...Changes to the organizational structure were necessary, which has resulted in some positions being eliminated."
There are many reasons given for those reductions, including increased competition and Mother Nature.
Godfrey said, “The flood impacted the Tunica market tremendously last year. Since then the numbers have been flat or down.”
“Gaming revenues aren’t where we want them to be,” Franklin added.
“I would anticipate that if the market does not start swinging upwards,” Godfrey said, “you are going to see more layoffs.”
But, it’s not all bad news. While closed during the 2011 floods, the casino’s still paid their employees.
“I’m not sure any industry would have done that,” said Franklin, “and the gaming industry did.”
The Fitz also announced those affected by the layoffs will be eligible for re-hire when the economy improves.
Local casinos are still hiring. Websites show there are more than 150-175 jobs available in the gaming industry in Tunica right now.