A Guide to Tunica's Casinos

Here's major news from several of Tunica's casinos where new theaters, nightclubs, golf courses, reward programs and room additions and renovations are making news and expanding the destination's appeal. Following is a guide to the developments.

GOLD STRIKE CASINO RESORT

Tunica's newest casino is the Gold Strike, which opened late last year as the new -- and expanded -- incarnation of the former Circus Circus.

Circus Circus had been solely a casino. Gold Strike debuted with a new 31-story hotel tower, which at 317 feet, is the tallest building in Mississippi.

The hotel tower features 1,200 luxury rooms, including 100 regular suites, 20 1,500-square-foot deluxe suites and two 2,000-square-foot super suites. Many rooms have views of the Mississippi River.

The resort also features an indoor swimming pool with two Jacuzzis and an exercise facility, a five-story parking garage, a 24-hour video arcade for under-21 year old guests, three restaurants and a food court, full-service meeting and convention facilities and a new theater-style showroom.

This new 800-seat Millennium Theatre is now featuring nightly performances (except for Tuesday nights) by magician Brett Daniels, who has appeared on such television programs as the Tonight Show and Entertainment Tonight.

GRAND CASINO TUNICA

Grand Casino, the largest gaming resort between Las Vegas and Atlantic City, in April opened its new Cottonwoods Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course designed by Hale Irwin, the 1997 Senior Player of the Year. To prepare for construction of the 7,000-yard course, Grand Casino reshaped more than 2,000 acres of its 2,200-acre resort area from riverbed and flat grassland to rolling hills and elevated plateaus. It hauled more than three million cubic yards of dirt to the area, adding up to 18 feet of elevation to land that was once below the

Mississippi River waterline.

A temporary clubhouse opened along with the golf course. The permanent clubhouse will be completed by the end of the year. Course fees are $65 for Grand Casino guests and $125 for the public.

Slated to open by the end of this year or early in 1999 is Grand Casino's third hotel. The 500-room Terrace will be a luxury property with a European-style spa and fitness

center and outdoor swimming pool. A Grand Casino spokeswoman said the new hotel is designed for the leisure market, while Grand Casino's other two hotel properties target their own markets. The 188-room Grand Casino Hotel, adjacent to the casino, serves high rollers and guests primarily interested in gaming, while the 568-room Veranda Hotel, connected to the resort's convention center, is geared to convention and meetings attendees.

Recent additions to the Grand Casino complex include a 200-space RV park with a lodge and check-in desk, convenience store, lounge, laundry facilities, swimming pool, tennis court and clay sport gaming facilities and clubhouse.

Future plans call for a new free-standing entertainment theater, a second 18-hole championship golf course, an outlet shopping mall and additional hotel rooms and meeting and banquet space.

HORSESHOE CASINO HOTEL

A year-long $95 million expansion project at the Horseshoe has resulted in the opening of a new hotel tower, casino expansion, new restaurants, a 1,100-space parking garage and the Bluesville entertainment complex.

The Bluesville complex, which opened in April, is made up of the Bluesville Showcase Nightclub and a Blues & Legends Hall of Fame Museum. Both are dedicated to the blues heritage of nearby Robinsonville, where the casinos are located, and the surrounding Mississippi Delta.

The Bluesville Showcase Nightclub, though a large facility, was designed to have an intimate atmosphere and the feel of a juke joint or roadhouse. Legendary blues artists like John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and Pinetop Perkins are being invited to appear but the program won't be limited to the blues. A variety of music will be showcased including rock, pop, country and R & B, along with nationally and internationally known acts.

The nightclub has a main floor and mezzanine level, a dance floor and three themed-bars equipped with television monitors so guests can view the show from the bars. Total seating is for 1,000. The Founders Club, a private VIP club on the mezzanine level, has sofas and chairs, video monitors, a pool table and a bar featuring an exclusive wine list and cigars.

The Blues & Legends Hall of Fame Museum traces the story of the blues from its early days in the Mississippi Delta to Memphis, Texas, Chicago and finally to contemporary electric blues and blues-influenced rock. The 5,000-square-foot facility will feature extensive guitar and harmonic collections, rare blues photography and art and artifacts. Special areas salute Big Mama Thornton, Ma Rainey and other women of blues, and Memphis' Beale Street. The museum is open daily and is free.

The Horseshoe's new 14-floor hotel tower, which opened late last year, has 311 suites. New restaurants include the Village Square Buffet and Cafe Sonoma. An expansion of the casino added 15,000 more square feet, giving the facility a total of 45,000 square feet. The project included an expansion of the poker room and the addition of 1,450 new slot machines and 70 table games.

HARRAH'S TUNICA CASINO & HOTEL

Earlier this year, Harrah' s launched Harrah's Premier, a "casino within a casino" designed to reward and recognize dedicated players with a premium level of service and amenities.

Premier membership is based on a customer's level of tracked play with points awarded for play at both slot machines and table games. Memberships are available at three levels: A seven-day pass, 90-day pass and full one-year membership. "In designing Harrah's Premier we went directly to experienced casino players in the Tunica market and conducted personal interviews to determine what services and amenities they desired most," says LuAnn Fetcho, director of marketing. "As a result we've developed a variety of special customer enhancements that are not only new to Tunica but, in many cases to the casino industry."

The Premier casino-within-a-casino features wider aisles, extra space between every table and slot machine, custom-designed adjustable slot chairs with arm and foot rests (some even have vibrating back massage), a sliding tray to hold food and drink and compartments at each slot machine for coin cups, handbags and other personal items. Each slot machine also comes with its own telephone so players can call for refreshments, change, credit, or hotel or restaurant reservations.

Additional amenities and services include a private Premier lounge for members, slot machines that can be reserved when members want to take a break, preferred valet parking, priority access to restaurants, dedicated cashiers and service desks for members, complimentary finger foods served throughout the Premier casino and 15% discount on purchases in Harrah's retail shop.

Last fall Harrah's Entertainment, parent company of Harrah's Tunica, introduced a national player and rewards program called Total Gold. It allows Harrah's players to earn points for slot play and redeem them for cash, merchandise, food, lodging or show tickets at any of Harrah's 16 casinos in North America.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO & HOTEL

The Hollywood Casino has added to its extensive collection of movie and television memorabilia of the Titanic, with a model of the stern of the ill-fated ship that was used in the making of the blockbuster movie.

Installed at the Hollywood Casino this spring, the model is 28 feet long, 12 feet wide, 25 feet high and weighs 6,000 pounds. It is displayed in a half-million-gallon pool and features lighting visual effects and physical effects to simulate the moment in the movie when the ship sank. Remote video cameras with interactive controls allow visitors to examine the model.

The exhibit also incorporates other memorabilia involving the Titanic, including two lifeboats used in the movie, the Titanic boarding tickets won in a poker game by Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Titanic Captain Smith's jacket and china and silver pieces featured in the dining room scenes.

The Hollywood Casino Corp., parent of the Hollywood Tunica, is one of the nation's largest collectors of film and television memorabilia. Displayed at the Tunica property, on the gaming floor and in the area surrounding the casino, are the prehistoric car from The Flintstones, the motorcycle and sidecar from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the Captain American motorcycle from Easy Rider, the Delorean car from Back to the Future, Elvis Presley's race car from Spinout and scale model trains from Under Siege II, along with costumes from Cleopatra and The Terminator.

The Hollywood is also planning to renovate its guest rooms and lobby.

SAM'S TOWN HOTEL & GAMBLING HALL

Tunica County's first hotel-casino, Sam's Town, unveiled a new nine-story, 350-room tower addition with atrium lobby about a year and a half ago. The addition brought its total room count to 860. The property is now in the midst of a project that will add 15 more suites to its inventory of 32 by this summer.

Also new will be the Casino Strip Resort Course, a championship, 6,900-yard golf course expected to open this fall. The course is jointly owned by Sam's Town plus the two other casino hotels that share its Casino Strip location: The Hollywood Casino & Hotel and Harrah's Tunica Casino & Hotel.

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