TUNICA COUNTY, Miss. — The dice are no longer rolling and the slots aren’t spinning at Harrah’s Casino in Tunica.
The casino lights went out for good a little after midnight Sunday, meaning 1,300 employees are now looking for work.
For many people, the closure marks the end of an era in gaming in Tunica County.
The lights at Harrah’s Casino Tunica were still flashing brightly a few minutes before midnight on Sunday, June 1.
But there are no winners among the 1,300 Harrah’s employees whose jobs ended at the stroke of midnight.
Bonnie Woolbright worked for Harrah’s for 17 years.
“This is like my second family and my second home. So, it’s very emotional,” said Woolbright.
Woolbright and Trish Sullivan have been cocktail servers for 17 and 18 years, respectively.
The two worked at the casino when it was The Grand Casino Tunica.
Like many employees, they formed a lasting friendship.
“Me and her has been here since day one. And it’s really a shame it has to be over. We loved working together, but I guess it’s time for us to move on,” said Sullivan.
The casino’s lights burned for a few minutes past midnight, and then at 12:05 Monday morning, they went dark for the last time.
It was an eerie sight, seen only once before in 2011, when flood waters closed the casino.
Many believed the flood was the beginning of the end for Harrah’s, which has experienced declining revenues.
By daylight Monday, the Harrah’s brand name was slowly disappearing from the landscape, leaving behind empty hotels and no more high-rollers to fill them.
Shelia Daniel lost her Harrah’s job of three years at midnight, but said she’s not planning to stay unemployed for long.
“I’m not of retiring age. So I know I got to get back out there. So if I see something that I think is good, I’m going to get on it, ” said Daniel.
No one with Harrah’s was available to talk about what will happen next with the property.
We were told the shut-down process will take a week or more.
Harrah’s Tunica opened in June 1996 as The Grand Casino.
It was the biggest casino between Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and the closest Mississippi casino to Memphis.
The name change to Harrah’s Tunica was finalized in May 2008.
Then in March of 2014, the company announced plans to close the casino for financial reasons.