Convention Meetings in Tunica

As Tunica's fledgling casino industry has expanded, so too have its casinos' meetings and convention space, says Webster Franklin, executive director of the Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau. The county's nine casinos now offer meeting and convention planners a total of just under 200,000 square feet of space.

"When it comes to the conventions business, you can't find a better place to hold your meeting than in Tunica," says Franklin. "We have brand new facilities and great hotels, meeting space and restaurants, along with fabulous food and beverage prices and built-in entertainment. Whether it's the gaming tables, a great meal or seeing a show, it's all here."

Tunica also has low lodging and food taxes, Franklin says. The room tax is 9% (2% on lodging plus a 7% state sales tax), and 8% on food and beverage (1% food and beverage tax plus the 7% state sales tax).

Franklin calls the meetings and convention industry "a hard one to break into, especially when no one has heard of you." Despite that, he says, Tunica is "getting the opportunity that most other new destinations do not get because of our facilities and product."

The CVB is at the beginning in terms of going after meetings and conventions but that business is a major priority for it, Franklin says. Its initial target is small to mid-sized regional meetings by groups like associations in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Eventually the CVB hopes to attract national organizations and companies.

The following is a breakdown of meeting facilities at Tunica's casinos.

Bally's Saloon, Gambling Hall & Hotel features 625 square feet of meeting space in its conference room which has a capacity for 40 theater-style. The Silo, home of Bonkerz Comedy Club, is available for larger groups Monday to Thursday. The Silo can seat 250.

Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel has 9,000 square feet of meeting space. Its Great Hall is divisible into four sections and accommodates up to 675 theater-style or 500 for banquet seating. The Ireland Room, divisible into two sections, accommodates up to 100 for theater seating.

Gold Strike Casino Resort, with 14,600 square feet of meeting space, has a 10,000-square-foot ballroom divisible into four sections and five meeting rooms. The 18,250-square-foot Millennium Theatre accommodates 800.

The Grand Casino Tunica has a 48,000-square-foot convention center which includes a 13,500-square-foot ballroom that divides into five rooms, and nine meeting rooms with a total of 7,500 square feet. The ballroom can accommodate 1,350 in theater-style seating and 900 for a banquet.

Harrah's Tunica Casino & Hotel offers nearly 13,500 square feet of meeting space in its Carnival Room Event Center. The facility accommodates up to 1,500 theater-style and more than 1,400 for a reception.

Hollywood Casino & Hotel has 14,400 square feet of meeting space in its Hollywood Ballroom and pre-function rooms. It can accommodate 1,100 in theater-style seating and 600 for a banquet.

Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall features 30,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 1,600. The 22,000-square-foot River Palace Arena accommodates 2,500 for a reception and 1,000 for a banquet. It has another seven meeting rooms, the largest of which can accommodate 544 in theater-style seating.

Sheraton Casino & Hotel has 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The 9,768 square-foot Grand Salon seats 1,200 theater-style. Two meeting rooms can seat up to 150 theater-style, 110 for a banquet and 150 for a reception.

In addition to the casinos, the Holiday Inn Express, with 100 guest rooms and four suites, has four meeting rooms. The largest can accommodate 121 in theater-style seating and 182 for a reception. n

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