Declining revenues from the county’s casinos are reportedly responsible for the coming departure from north Tunica County by the Rural Metro Fire Department at the end of next month.
The late May exit comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Pennsylvania-based gaming and racing operator, Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN: NASDAQ) that operations at its Resorts Casino Tunica property in Mississippi will cease on June 30, 2019.
Due to the retraction of the gaming industry in the county, the tax base has been reduced to below what the district requires in order for service to be maintained. The news release further states that a subsidy from Tunica County had compensated for the deficit in the past year, but that it will no longer be available.
Dissolved by county:
WREG reports that the national leader in private ambulance and fire protection services [Rural Metro] said that the North Tunica County Fire Protection District was dissolved by the county.
Two decades of service:
Chair of the District’s Board of Commissioners, Stanley R. Jones, said that for more than 20 years Rural Metro had provided fire services in the casino district. And as casino revenues declined, he said that staff had gone for months at a time working without pay.
Penn National closing:
Speaking to the coming casino closure, Sr. Vice President of Regional Operations for the Wyomissing-headquartered company, Al Britton, said in the company’s April 16 announcement that “increased competition from recent gaming expansion in Arkansas continues to drive the property’s business volumes lower.”
In March 2017, Penn National took over operations of both Bally’s Casino Tunica (later renamed “1st Jackpot”) and Resorts Casino Tunica, and the company recognized at the time that they were “acquiring an aging barge in need of significant capital improvements.”
However, oversaturation of the market, namely the legalization of casino gaming in Arkansas, which has seen both Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and Southland Park Gaming and Racing make the transformation into full-scale casinos from April 1, 2019, was cited by Penn as one reason for its decision to shutter the Tunica, Mississippi casino.