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  1. Tunica Resorts, formerly Robinsonville, is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in northern Tunica County, Mississippi, north of the county seat of Tunica. The community is situated mostly between the Mississippi River and U.S. Route 61 along the border with Arkansas. The population as of.:
    s regional president in charge of Horseshoe Tunica and Tunica Roadhouse, his thought on the idea of moving casinos to Memphis. . to Greater Memphis residents, with 70 percent, or about $ million, coming out of Memphis and Shelby County, home to about 70 percent of the metro population. In DeSoto County, just north of Tunica and next to Memphis, church groups demanded a referendum on gambling and residents organized and voted down . Before the casinos, percent of the population was on some form of welfare, said Jacqueline Pickett, the county director of social services; the. Since Memphis, Tunica's main source of gamblers, has become the fifth largest casino market in the United States. Investors have plunked down more than a billion dollars in the county to get a piece of the action. Property values around potential development sites have skyrocketed 9, percent. Pwo years ago.
  2. So, when we look only at counties with more sizeable resident populations and gambling facilities, we see even greater evidence of the problem. A LOOK AT THE In New Jersey, casinos are permitted only in Atlantic City — and that's also where the resident population has by far the highest bankruptcy rate. Generally.:
    Memphis, TN, is less than 20 miles from Tunica County, MS, which opened its first casino in October and which now has nine casinos in operation. In balance, casinos are good for a com- munity. Gambling is immoral. The casino industry has organized crime connections. Percent Agreeing. Memphis. Compare population statistics about Memphis, TN from the and census by race, age, gender, Latino/Hispanic origin etc. Interactive Map of Tennessee - Census Viewer. Compare population statistics about American Indian and Alaska native alone, 1,, %, 1,, %, , %. Asian alone. Tunica County, MS is located in the heart of the Lower Mississippi Delta approximately 30 miles South of Memphis, TN. Tunica Casino Gaming arrived in October of , and badly needed jobs arrived in the region and the devastated public schools finally received money to buy books, repair buildings, and pay teachers.
  3. Harrah'S Casino Near Memphis Tn Demographics Images Gallery "Harrah'S Casino Near Memphis Tn Demo Casino Casino gambling is about to move closer to Chattanooga. Harrah's While population growth has occurred mostly outside Tunica, the major casinos employ numerous locals.:
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It depended on enslaved labor. After emancipation, many African Americans continued to work in agriculture in this area. In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans migrated north from Mississippi to Chicago and other industrial cities in the Great Migration to leave the violence and oppression of the South, as well as the loss of jobs due to mechanization of agriculture.

Population also declined in the county as railroads and highways drew off traffic from the river. After , gambling casinos and resorts were developed in the unincorporated community of Robinsonville, north of the county seat of Tunica. In a nod to riverboat gambling, to comply with state law, the casinos are built on floating platforms in the Mississippi River.

Lacking the structure of an organized city or town, Robinsonville consists mainly of casinos and cotton fields, with few permanent residents living in the community.

Robinsonville has ranked as high as the third-largest casino-gambling destination in the United States , as measured by gaming revenue, behind Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Its casinos attract gamblers mainly from nearby Memphis , but also draw visitors from Mississippi , Tennessee , Arkansas , Alabama , Missouri , Georgia , Illinois and Kentucky.

In the second decade of the 21st century, due to increased legalization of gambling in other states, including on Native American reservations, Tunica places sixth in gaming revenue, after the Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, Chicago , Connecticut , and Detroit.

The Mississippi River floods damaged casino resort buildings and infrastructure in this community. While the casinos float and escaped most damage, the hotels' towers and surrounding businesses are on land. Some of the hotels had major flooding on the lower floors, including the Harrah's Casino Tunica , which was under nearly six feet of water.

At one time, eleven different casinos were operated in the community. Treasure Bay Casino closed, and the Isle of Capri originally the first of three Harrah's locations in the area was bought by the neighboring Sam's Town resort; it is used only for its hotel tower and parking garage.

The community is remarkable in that there is little infrastructure other than that which adjoins the casinos. Businesses other than the casinos include a small number of motels , convenience stores and fast food restaurants, along with an outlet-style shopping center, and the community's oldest business, the Hollywood Cafe, a blues club immortalized in the popular song, " Walking in Memphis ," by Marc Cohn in Now one casino exec says putting a casino in the big city is an idea worth exploring,.

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Move over slot machines. Casinos are now adding skill-based video games to traditional games of chance. It's part of an effort by casinos to attract more millennials. A surprising number of readers commented last week, responding to an article exploring the fast rise of casino gambling at Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis. Although there is a definite anti-gaming attitude in Memphis, no one attacked gambling, at least not in the calls and emails to me.

Readers pointed out if Memphis were to let in casinos — yes, that is a very big if — then tax revenue could rise in the cash-strapped city. The newest of the eight casinos in the Tunica district opened 20 years ago, he said. Blacks here and throughout the Delta fled northward in a great migration that changed the country, and by the late 's, black labor was largely superfluous. Tunica County's population in the 's was about 25,, more than three times what it is today. Despite the widespread poverty, there are more than a score of planter millionaires, and about a dozen old-line white families pretty much run everything.

Much has changed in the odd years since Mississippi fiercely resisted the civil rights movement. The county sheriff, John Pickett, is black, as are many of his deputies. Other things have not. The public schools, which up to two years ago ranked consistently last among the state's districts, are all black.

White students go to the private Tunica Institute of Learning. The races still live separate lives, many of the blacks in a section known until recently as Sugar Ditch for the open sewer then running though it. Tunica County was such an undesirable site that hardly anyone, least of all the big gambling operators, noticed when the County Board of Supervisors, headed for the last 34 years by a wealthy cotton planter and catfish farmer, Paul Battle, opened the way to casinos by getting a legal notice published in newspapers.

There were no organized objections to the notice. In DeSoto County, just north of Tunica and next to Memphis, church groups demanded a referendum on gambling and residents organized and voted down the proposal. It was called Splash, and it made local history. Murphree, the County Administrator.

View all New York Times newsletters. Splash is gone now, along with three other early casinos, squeezed out when the big operators moved in. The Schillings are living in Fort Lauderdale. Splash left another legacy -- a way to get the ''boats'' on land. The original plan had been to put a yacht at the dock. But the Mississippi's current is powerful, and the river can fluctuate by 40 feet.

So the owners dug a slip for a barge and protected it from the river with a cofferdam. The law called for gambling vessels to float on the Mississippi River or its navigable tributaries.

What this has come to mean is the flood plain of the Mississippi. The casino operators dug trenches inland and created ponds, floated in barges, then filled the trenches.

The gambling floors of the casinos now sit atop the barges, making them legal ''gambling boats. Fierce Fighting For Customers.

The casinos themselves are ''somewhere else'' architecture, conjuring up cowboys, old movies or some other adventuresome theme. But inside, they are remarkably similar, dominated by rows and rows of slot machines emitting constant ear-splitting clangs, operated by grimly silent customers, many steadily puffing cigarettes, feeding in coins from paper cups. There are 14, slot machines in the county's 10 casinos.

Even the bars with the free drinks have video card games implanted in the counters. At the Grand Casino, bulldozers are clearing the way for three hotels, two golf courses, a acre lake and water park, a convention center, a child care center, parking lots, a mall and more in hopes of turning the site into what the tourist industry calls a ''destination.

Competition is cutthroat, with the casinos offering complementary food, drink and hotel rooms and giving away boats and cars as prizes, as well as claiming better odds and more winning slot machines. The market is not just the Memphis area, but the whole center of the country, because Interstate 55, running from Chicago to New Orleans, and Interstate 40, connecting both coasts, intersect there. The cars, vans and recreational vehicles have plates from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and beyond.

Like a blackjack player splitting his aces, the county is putting the lion's share of its new tax revenue -- the state gets 8 percent of casino profits, Tunica County 4 percent -- into new roads, turning country lanes into four-lane connectors to Interstate 55 to bring more gamblers straight to the casinos.

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And I tangled the numbers together. Barber figures customers from outside the region account for about half the business at both Tunica and Southland Park. Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Of course, these are averages. Spectrum Gaming Group of Linwood, N. So much money is being bet across the river, I pointed out last week, that Memphis could generate considerable sales tax revenue if there were a casino in the big city. How much tax revenue?

Is it time for Memphis leaders to make the push, try to ramp up casinos in Memphis? Relocating closer to the main highway, U. Modern casinos have opened primarily in urban areas dense with activities rather than in the rural countryside like Tunica. After the first Tunica casino was opened in August , the casino district flourished as a destination for gamblers nationwide.

But now 40 states allow casinos. Ted Evanoff, business columnist of The Commercial Appeal, can be reached at evanoff commercialappeal. Log In Subscribed, but don't have a login? He points out that one kind of employer cannot possibly suit every potential employee, and that for religious reasons alone many of Tunica's blacks would rather be unemployed than work in a casino.

Still, like many others, he ultimately lays the blame on what is most often called the "lack of work ethic"--meaning that iany Tunicans make poor employees because they haven't been conditioned to take a job seriously. People hint that those who are continually out of work are in that situation because they come po work late, take unauthorized days off, or even quit on a whim.

Crawford and others see Tunica's history of unemployment as responsible for this behavior. In the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission, chaired by Bill Clinton as the governor of Arkansas, issued a more sweeping statement about the limitations that cripple the black population in Tunica and other Delta communities: The disparity between the way most Americans live and the way the majority of black Tunicans live defies belief.

With the exception of crack cocaine and, now, the casinos, little of modern America has penetrated Tunica County; far from participating in the American dream, most of Tunica's black population is excluded from even the mundane aspects of American life.

To explain what she means, she tells a story of working with a new waitress, a young black woman from Tunica. But the county's problems are even more complex than its grim statistics and such examples of isolation from America's mainstream would suggest. NOT everyone is poor in what has sometimes been known as the poorest county in America. Pointing out the big landowners, Tunicans often claim that the county is home to more than thirty millionaires.

Perhaps more important, Tunica, unlike most rural counties in the South, has almost no poor whites. In fact, in the county seat, the town of Punica, which is 74 percent white, the county's reputation for poverty is difficult to credit. The wide main street is lined with a few basic shops--a hardware store, a drugstore, two banks--and is refreshingly free of links from any fast-food chain.

An old-fashioned brick courthouse stands in the middle of town. Some of the houses in the most visible neighborhood are modest, though solid and well tended, but most are substantial, and a few might be called mansions. All sit back from the street on large, leafy lots. To be poor in Tunica County is to be black.

Most blacks live outside the town limits--the county as a whole is 74 percent black and only 26 percent white, the reverse of the town. Many blacks live in North Tunica, better known as the "sub" short for "subdivision" , an unincorporated area adjacent to the county seat.

There is some federally subsidized housing in the sub--small, neat brick ranch houses, trailers, and an apartment complex that looks like a barracks. And there are many houses that might more accurately be called shacks. No white people live in North Tunica, and the town has no desire to annex it. The physical separation of the races in Tunica is not so surprising in itself.

After all, few places exist in America where separation does not occur. What seems unusual to the outsider is that the two groups are so close to each other--just across the street in many cases--and yet so unambiguously apart.

Robinsonville, the crossroads hamlet closest to the casinos, demonstrates this pattern in miniature. A quarter-mile stretch of street is serene, lined with gracious houses, their walls of freshly painted wood or ivy-covered brick, skirted by green lawns and shaded under arching trees.

A child's voice piped occasionally from another back yard, and in front of a third house a woman maneuvered her sit-down mower carefully around a tree. The street just around the corner was lively. Along this quarter-mile stretch stands a featureless single-story cinder-block rectangle divided into tiny apartments, and a handful of shacks, their porches balanced on cinder blocks, the wood of their walls bare and weathered gray, their corrugated-tin roofs rusted.

The postage-stamp yards in front of these homes are packed dirt and stones, and on the Fourth vans and old American luxury cars were parked in and around them. Music was blasting, and a couple of the porches were crowded. Cars and pickup trucks rambled down the street, paused while someone leaned in the window for a while, and then turned around and rambled up the street again. The two streets together make up almost the whole of Robinsonville, but they seem to belong to completely different worlds.

The blatant separation of the races in Tunica's schools shocks an outsider even more than the county's housing pattern, and neither blacks nor whites seem to object to this separation, which is most shocking of all.

With few exceptions, Tunica's white children attend the private, all-white Tunica Institute of Learning. White churches reportedly raise funds to help the small number of white families who otherwise could not pay the tuition.

Tunica's black children go to the public schools. Last year only one white student attended Rosa Fort, the public high school. Significantly, he was not from Tunica; his family had just moved into the county from California.

Certainly Tunica has changed radically since the s, when the county sheriff accused the folklorist Alan Lomax of being a foreign spy because he violated the county's racial code. Lomax was detained because he interviewed the blues musician Son House, a black man, without permission from the planter for whoi House worked, because he referred to House with the honorific "Mister," and because the sheriff suspected that Lomax had shaken House's hand.

Today the sheriff of Tunica County is black. But while Tunicans now eschew the virulent racism of the past, the attitude that fueled the old behavior--what scholars generally agree comes down to a fear of miscegenation--has merely been tempered, not eradicated. The principal of Rosa Fort, Willie Dismuke, who is black, is surprisingly offhand, for instance, when he mentions that fear of interracial dating is at the heart of the separation between the schools.

A racial code still dictates relations between whites and blacks in Tunica, constricting both groups. As Sister Gus Griffin, of Catholic Social Services, a social-service organization in Tunica, observes, "I think in the social structure of Tunica white people would be ostracized if they sent their kids to Rosa Fort.

Whites are in line too. Race relations influence Tunica's response to its new wealth, and in this way the county's plans for its future are the inevitable flowering of its history. Tunica has shared that history, for the most part, with the rest of the Mississippi Delta.

IN defining the boundaries of what he regarded as a distinct region, the writer David Cohn famously remarked in that the Mississippi Delta "begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg. And "the Delta" is not really a delta but an alluvial plain miles long and seventy miles wide at its widest, across which the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers flooded and receded for millennia, depositing their riches, until the Delta became, as Cohn described it, "pure soil endlessly deep, dark, and sweet.

In the s, when the first planters became aware of the Delta's agricultural potential, it was a swampy wilderness, choked with vegetation, where panthers and water moccasins lurked--"a seething lush hell," as one eighteenth-century scholar described it. The historian James C. Cobb, perhaps the leading authority on the region, has called the Iississippi Delta "the most southern place on earth. From the start the Delta presented an opportunity for high-stakes gambling.

The soil promised quick riches in cotton, but those who tried to win them risked cholera, malaria, and typhoid fever, and climatic extremes ranging from drought to floods to frost. Those whose bodies survived the diseases and whose crops survived the weather could see the whole endeavor come to nothing in the fickle cotton market.

Such a gamble attracted wealthy landowners from the East whose plantations were wearing out and who could afford the enormous investment in cash and slaves necessary to clear and drain and cultivate the land.

Producing a profitable cotton crop in the Delta required physical labor above all. By the slaves on whom the planters depended for this labor outnumbered whites in the most developed area of the Delta by more than fourteen to one.

Black men and women transformed the Delta. As Cohn explained, without the African-American there would be no Delta as we know it today. With its grueling, year-round work, malarial swamps, and planter class frantic to see its gamble pay off, the Mississippi Delta was perhaps the worst place in America to be a slave.

Being "sold down the river" to the Delta quickly developed a reputation as a death sentence. At the other extreme the members of the Delta's white elite, freely spending their profits in dissipation and ostentation, soon became known for their pursuit of the good life. Poor and middle-class whites had no place in this plantation economy. Long after the Civil War whites remained convinced that their success depended on the Delta's being a place where their interests, solely because of their race, always came first.

As one Tunica County planter told a sharecropper early in this century, "This is a place for me to make a profit, not you. However subjugated, blacks were essential in the Delta, since the cotton plantations continued to require a large labor force.

Delta whites thus had to coexist with a group they feared but on whom they depended, and this, along with a bedrock of racial animosity, underlay the relationship between the races for decades. Beginning in the late s, when cotton production was mechanized, eliminating the need for most agricultural labor, this relationship changed fundamentally. Although mechanization spurred a huge black migration to the North--part of the largest population movement in American history--African-Americans still make up nearly 70 percent of the Delta's population.

The paramount problem in Tunica, from the point of view of many whites, is what to do with this group that stayed behind--a black majority disproportionately unemployed, dependent, and miserably educated, a population that many whites regard as dross. In fact, the wish of some whites, one white woman from Tunica whispered to us recently, "is for [black people] to go away," leaving Tunica for the whites.

For both political and economic reasons, this has been true since mechanization. The black population, for its part, seems pretty well convinced that its fortunes in Tunica will never change. This resignation gives rise to a resentful passivity, which the white population perceives as an unwillingness or inability on the part of blacks to improve their situation. The behavior of each side thus confirms the worst suspicions of the other.

TUNICA is really two communities, deeply divided by race and wealth, and the economic boom that was at first greeted as a universal good has in many ways exacerbated the county's division. Blacks believe that even if casino revenues prove to be a rising tide that lifts all boats, it still won't lift them out of their subordinate position. Some blacks fear that Tunica's new prosperity might make their place in the county even more marginal.

Whereas legalized gambling is the most recent in a series of attempts to bring industry to the area, historically such efforts have been designed to retain and increase the minority white population rather than to create employment for blacks.

Many of Tunica's whites, it seems, see casino gambling as a means to transform Tunica into a white middle-class exurb of Memphis. Ken Murphree, the county administrator, talks hopefully about golf courses, factory-outlet malls, and retirement communities to solidify Tunica's new image as a center for recreation and leisure.

His wife, Connie Murphree, points out that Tunica's quiet rural atmosphere would make it a haven for those who want to escape urban problems. If the casinos succeed, and the leisure industry develops as its boosters hope, the county will attract young couples wanting to work and retirees ready to play, and will house them in new condominiums and planned communities.

Eventually Tunica will attract middle-class families with jobs in Memphis who want a better house on more land than they can afford in the city, and the county, with what its promoters call a "nice little Southern town" at its core, will prosper as a bedroom community for Memphis and a retirement center for the mid-South. Tunica's blacks are conspicuously absent from this vision. In fact, it's impossible to reconcile the existence of a majority population that is still desperately poor and difficult to employ with this idea of what Tunica's boosters would like the county to become.

Already, with the rise in land values, those who are ill equipped to take advantage of Tunica's new opportunities are seeing their rents skyrocket while their housing remains substandard. As Clifford Cox, the director of Tunica Habitat for Humanity, observed over coffee last summer, "This county is so dollar-signs-in-the-eyes that they're not looking at the small community--the citizens that are already here. They're concentrating on how to bring people in.

Tunica's transformation seems to be off to a good start. One of the county's largest landowners has joined with developers from Memphis to build a planned community in Robinsonville, near the casinos. But some of Tunica's blacks worry that the closer the county's leaders come to realizing their vision, the more marginalized the black population will become.

Although an influx of families with good incomes would seem to be a boon to the county's educational system, for instance, Willie Dismuke, the high school principal, assumes that such growth will ultimately result in two public schools, one for affluent white newcomers, one for poor black Tunica natives.

Indeed, a new elementary school to serve the anticipated population boom in the Robinsonville area is now under consideration. Whether or not events prove Dismuke right, his assumption that Tunica will steadfastly remain two communities even if the county's economy and population change radically shows a striking lack of confidence in Tunica's ability or willingness to allow race relations to change.

FROM the time when public schooling for Tunica's blacks meant one-room schoolhouses on the plantations, where education was limited by the demands of the cotton crop and stopped at eighth grade; through the period , when the schoolhouses were closed and blacks and whites attended separate and unequal elementary and high schools; through desegregation, when the white community abruptly and en masse abandoned Tunica's public schools, the county's educational system has epitomized its racial divide.

Today the debate over how much of Tunica's new wealth should be spent on public education brings the county's racial division to a head. To the county board of supervisors, which is 60 percent white, investing in Tunica means building infrastructure to support the casinos and to attract more business. The board has also been pleased to cut property taxes by 50 percent, thanks to the counpy's new casino-generated income.

This may seem like a reasonable course for developing the county, but it neglects the most obvious obstacle to the economic progress of Tunica's majority. Mississippi's public schools are considered the worst in the nation, and Tunica's school system is among the worst in Mississippi. Tunica's school district ranked out of in a statewide literacy exam in , and its students have consistently tested so poorly on various achievement exams that the Mississippi Department of Education has placed the district on probation for seven of the past eight years.

Although the casinos have tried to hire Tunicans as often as possible, if only for the sake of good public relations, they have found most blacks from Tunica to be unprepared for all but the most menial positions.

Illiteracy plagues the black population, and many of Tunica's blacks lack the math skills not only to be dealers but, according to the casinos, even to make change. Improving Tunica's abysmal public education would seem to be an obvious first step in any effort to better the lives of its citizens and strengthen the county's economic prospects overall, but originally the supervisors were not going to allot any of the county's take to the public schools. And although in many places public education unites parents of different races and economic levels, in Tunica the coalition of community activists and teachers that hired a lawyer to get the county to allocate casino revenues to the schools was entirely black.

In response to the black community's continuing demands that the county devote more money to education, many in the white community maintain that the schools' problems do not stem from a lack of funds.

They suggest that the Tunica school district has for years spent more per pupil than the average Mississippi school district. In , however, Tunica ranked out of in per-pupil spending. Today, largely thanks to state and federal money, Tunica does indeed spend more than the Mississippi average on its pupils, but to argue that the amount is adequate seems somewhat disingenuous, since far more than average expenditure would be required to offset the extreme disadvantages under which Tunica's black students labor.

Certainly whites in Tunica need not have bad intentions to believe that the windfall from the casinos is better spent on infrastructure, but their motives are automatically suspect whenever a decision involves the public schools, because they long ago forsook that institution.

It is no doubt galling to many blacks in Tunica that whites make choices about schools they didn't attend and to which they don't send their children, and equally galling to many whites that they must help support schools they don't use. Perhaps most frustrating for the black population is that Tunica does not seem eager to make a place for even those blacks who have been able to take advantage of the new opportunities the casinos have presented to improve their lives.

Some black Tunicans have managed to earn enough money working in the casinos to get themselves off welfare. Now they would like to buy houses in the community where their families have lived for generations. Whereas it would seem that these are just the sort of citizens that Tunica might like to keep, the county is in fact offering them little reward for their efforts.

Few low-cost, decent houses are available in Tunica, and there seems to be some effort to keep things that way. Perceiving a new market, Bob Hall, a local developer, is trying to build houses that those blacks who are now steadily employed can afford with a Federal Housing Administration loan, and he blames the town's planning commission for trying to stall him. According to Hall, who is white, people argue that they don't want "that kind of housing," which he translates to mean that they don't want "any more houses for black people to live in.

Although Sister Gus Griffin concedes that the white community has become more willing than it was in the past to permit changes that will help the black population, she nevertheless believes that whites on the whole are unlikely "to do anything to make it easier for African-Americans to live in Tunica.

A love for the place is one of the few things blacks and whites share in Tunica. Reflecting the views of many in the black community, Freddie Brandon, a board member of a Tunica housing-assistance organization, asserted during a conversation last fall, "This is our home; we're not going anywhere. IT remains to be seen whether Tunica's gamble on casinos will pay off in the long run.

County officials and the Chamber of Commerce eye neighboring states and counties nervously, fearing that if Memphis, for instance, decides to throw its doors open to casinos, a substantial number of Tunica's gamblers will drift away. The next year, according to developers and local officials, is crucial: If all goes well, by early the county will have consolidated its position, reassuring still more developers that Tunica is a safe investment and encouraging them to sink their money into the rich Delta soil.

Whatever their future, the casinos are booming in Tunica now, and although, located seven miles from the county seat, they have not yet penetrated Tunica's core, they are certainly edging the county into modern America. Dinner out in Tunica used to mean fried catfish or chitterlings at the Blue and White, which caters mostly to whites, or Vada's Diner, which caters mostly to blacks. Now a Tunican need only drive to the Circus Circus casino to order cioppino and tiramisu.

More important, the casinos are happy to take everybody's money. They are a source of wealth and opportunity beyond the control of the traditional economic and political powers in the county. And with no interest in anything but turning a profit, they have no stake in maintaining Tunica's caste system. If the casinos succeed in jarring the county out of decades of economic and social stagnation, Tunica will have an opportunity far more profound than anyone could have imagined just three years ago: If it so chooses, Tunica can use its new resources to prepare its people to take advantage of the chance afforded by the casinos.

The county can define its needs as the needs of the majority of its citizens. But if it is true, as one longtime white Tunica resident asserts, echoing an oft-repeated observation, that whites "want things to stay the same; they don't want blacks to get ahead," it is unlikely, to say the least, that Tunica will make this choice. Even if there are many exceptions to this dismal assessment, focusing on changing the lives of the county's poor would mean sacrificing the strides the county could make were it not hampered by this population--sacrificing, in other words, the vision of Tunica as a prosperous white exurb.

To arrive at a thriving exurb of golf courses and retirement condos, those who would re-create the county must essentially see Tunica as a blank canvas. Then they can decide how best to work with the medium they have been given--the casinos--to bring the place although not necessarily its population to its fullest potential.

Ironically, the economic tide that should be bringing black Tunicans into the mainstream may instead allow white Tunica to push them even further into the backwater, while white Tunicans chase their dream of a prosperous rural southern town--essentially what the town of Tunica would be today if the black areas at its edges could be ignored.

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Calverta Jackson, a year-old black woman wearing her Bally Casino T-shirt, who was shopping in the Piggly Wiggly supermarket, is one of the local people who have found jobs that put shiny late-model cars in the driveways and replaced some of the shacks with trailer homes. You see people buying cars, their own property. They weren't able to do that.

The casinos made all that possible. Before the casinos, In , before casinos, the January rate was This year, the figures were 8. There's a job available for everyone who wants to work. They're able to buy trailers, things they weren't able to buy. People just have a better prospect of living. It has not been entirely smooth. Many people in the county had never worked steadily, and the casinos have to run basic training programs.

The people who made the big money were those, already rich, who owned the land. Shea Leatherman, whose family settled in the county when the hardwood forests were cut in the midth century, hoped to get a few million dollars, the story here goes, for land that had been worth less than a million.

But at the Blue and White Cafe, lounge and gas station, a truck-stop landmark serving catfish and homemade pie at the edge of town since , Wiley Chambers, the owner, is so mad he once chased out the publisher of a gambling newspaper that had free casino meal coupons.

Anticipating a rush of business, Mr. Chambers concreted the grease pit of his gas station, burying the hydraulic rack, to create a new lounge, only to find the casinos were giving away drinks.

Another roadhouse, the Hollywood, which claimed to have originated french-fried pickle slices, a local delicacy, has closed down. Chambers was shouting angrily the other evening, over a country song on the jukebox and a hard-fought pool game. All the locals go just to eat the cheap food! Heck Wiley, with a Bud and meaty tattooed forearms on the bar, objected, saying, ''Where else could an ole Mississippi boy go to hear Merle Haggard and Patty Loveless?

An article on Oct. The 2,word article was fully based on The Times's reporting and interviewing at the scene, but some avenues for the reporting were suggested by an article by John Brans ton in the July-August issue of Memphis, a Tennessee magazine. Three brief passages in The Times closely reflected the phrasing of Memphis's article. These were references to the parallel between the slot machine's impact and that of the cotton gin; to the profit statistics per slot machine, and to Shea Leatherman, a farmer who found a windfall in selling land for a casino.

Those three passages should have been attributed to Memphis. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. Editor's Note Appended Implausibly looming over the Mississippi Delta, the flat, black alluvial soil that brought forth cotton and the blues, are an Irish castle, a cowboy town, the Hollywood hills, a circus tent, a Tudor mansion and, biggest of all, something that its architects insist synthesizes Victorian-age San Francisco, the Wild West, New Orleans at Mardi Gras and a rain forest with a pagoda and some Greco-Roman columns thrown in, the whole tastefully outlined in pulsating purple neon.

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