Harrah's Tunica will close - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Harrah's Tunica will close; 1,300 employees will have to find new jobs

Harrah's Tunica will close in June. Harrah's Tunica will close in June.
Officials based the decision on persistent declines in business and increased competition. Officials based the decision on persistent declines in business and increased competition.
Officials based the decision on persistent declines in business and increased competition. Officials based the decision on persistent declines in business and increased competition.

(WMC-TV) - Caesars Entertainment Corporation will close Harrah's Tunica before the summer hits.

The property, including three hotels consisting of 1,356 rooms, will cease operations on June 2. Officials based the decision on persistent declines in business and increased competition.

"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 President of Central Markets and Partnership Development John Payne.

Harrah's patrons are shocked. The property, which sits on 2,000 acres, will remain fully operational until its closure and will honor all room reservations and events until that time.

All 1,300 employees will have to find new jobs. In a news release, Caesars Entertainment said they will work to find new positions for as many Harrah's Tunica employees as possible.

"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," said Payne.

Tunica County has the second highest unemployment rate in Mississippi.

"It's not a Tunica issue, it's Mid-South issue. The economy of the entire Mid-South relies heavily on the expenditures by employees of people, who work here, go home, and spend that money," said Webster Franklin with the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Caesars has been trying to sell Harrah's for three years, but its size makes it less desirable. Harrah's Tunica is the largest casino resort between Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In addition to the hotels, it has a golf course and a 2,500-seat event center.

"It's a large property to maintain and it requires mass crowds to come in, and through this economic downturn we just haven't see those types of crowds here," said R. Scott Barber with Caesars Mid-South.

Harrah's has struggled to regain its business since a major flood brought destruction to the area in May 2011. The river was over eight feet high, even the doors to casinos were blocked by floodwaters.

Business was essentially cut in half from 2010 to 2011. Not only did money stop coming into the casinos, but they were forced to spend money on repairs. It took nearly a month for casinos like Harrah's to reopen their doors.

According to the Caesars Entertainment Corporation's website, the casino-entertainment company began in Reno, Nevada more than 75 years ago. The company's resorts operate primarily under the Harrah's, Caesars, and Horseshoe brand names.

Caesars and Tunica county are holding out hope that the recent sale of The Fitz casino means someone may just buy Harrah's. Caesars is working with the county to help figure something out something to do with the huge property.

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