Casinos in Tunica, Mississippi: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I wrote this right after my husband and I returned from our fall vacation. Our children are 22 and 17, so this was our first vacation together as "an old married couple" without the kids (we are both 43). We decided it would be fun to go to Tunica, Mississippi, over a long weekend. We had been there once before with some relatives when the kids were younger and thought it would be a fun place to experience "just the two of us".
I researched the hotels and casinos online, ordered a local travel guide that was chock full of coupons, made our hotel reservation, planned out our activities for the days we would be there, and anticipated all of the fun we were bound to have. Unfortunately, our vacation didn't turn out the way we hoped it would, and we were back home within 36 hours of leaving.
If you are planning a trip to Tunica, please read this article before going. It is an honest review about the places we visited and may actually save you time and money.
The Good: Our Room at the Gold Strike
As a teacher, I have been taught that when I conference with one of my student's parents it's best to start out with something positive to set the tone of the meeting so I am going to start this article out with a few of the positive things I found in Tunica.
We stayed at the Gold Strike Casino, and I have to say—the hotel was absolutely fabulous. The check-in procedure was speedy and everyone who worked at the front desk was courteous and helpful. The lobby was huge and although there were a lot of people there, it didn't seem the least bit crowded. We were given a king room on the 10th floor.
I was pleasantly surprised at how nice our room was. It was decorated with very modern furniture, a big flat screen television, and bedding and accessories in shades of browns accented with mint green and ice blue. The atmosphere in the room was very calm and relaxing.
Our bed was spacious and comfortable and sported extra pillows, which was great because I always sleep with one between my knees. The immaculately clean bathroom was fully stocked with toiletries, a hair dryer, and a coffee maker. I can honestly say that this was one of the nicest hotels that my husband and I have ever stayed in.
The Bad at Gold Strike
Now for something not so positive. The casino at the Gold Strike is located on the first floor. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. After a quick once around the floor, my husband and I decided to settle in and play some slots. Minutes later, hubby asked me to go and get him a beer and I dutifully did after he agreed to watch the machine I was playing until I got back. I went to the bar to purchased his $5 bottle of ale and when I returned there was a man sitting at my machine!
My husband was trying to explain to him that I had been playing the machine and the $90 balance on it belonged to me, but the man refused to move until we gave him $10. We gave him the cash just to get rid of him. Later that evening I attempted to play another machine when the man next to it shoved his hand in front of me and blocked me from putting any money in. He wasn't playing the machine at the time, but I guess he figured that if he couldn't play it no one else could either.
Shortly after that incident, we were approached by a cocktail server who asked us if we wanted drinks. I inquired as to the cost of a bottled drink and she informed me that all beverages at the casino were free—including the beer I had just paid $5 for in the bar! I was shocked! You have to understand that we live in Oklahoma and at the casinos here you have to pay for your drinks, so I naturally assumed it would be the same in Mississippi. Boy, was I wrong. I guess when I asked the bartender how much I owed him he was referring to his tip—not the drink.
The Ugly at Gold Strike
None of the machines were paying out anything. My husband and I played for less than an hour and lost well over $1,000. We played all denominations of machines, but they were dialed up so tight NOTHING paid. We walked around the casino and our experience seemed to be exactly what was happening to everyone in the place. We got so discouraged we left and went next door to the Horseshoe. We stayed at the Horseshoe for a few hours because we actually WON something on their machines. The payouts weren't huge but at least we were able to play for a while.
I ended up retiring to the room at about midnight and my husband went back to the casino to attempt to recoup some of our losses. He returned 2 hours later after losing another large amount of money. We checked out of the Gold Strike the next morning and I can honestly say we will NEVER GO BACK.
Now for those of you who want to tell me that when you gamble you lose money—I realize that. I didn't expect to win huge amounts of money, but I did hope to at least be able to play for a while and not just hand my money directly to the casino. When I say the machines weren't hitting, I mean they weren't hitting ANYTHING not even the lowest winning combinations. It would have been more honest to have attendants stand next to the machines so you could simply hand them your money and not waste your time sitting down and pushing buttons.
The Ugly: The Hollywood Casino
We went to the Hollywood casino because they advertised a special 50 cent buffet lunch for people who signed up for their club card. When we signed up for the card we were told that we had to accumulate 10 points to qualify for the buffet special. We figured 10 points wouldn't be hard to get so we sat down and began playing slots.
The Hollywood casino was just like the Gold Strike, the machines weren't paying. We didn't hit anything, nor did we see anyone else hit anything. Even worse we realized that you had to spend over $60 just to get the 10 points you needed to get the buffet special. We would have been better off paying the $10 for the buffet and keeping the rest of our money in our pockets!
We eventually ate lunch and I asked several of the casino's employees if there was anyplace that had slot machines that actually let you win something. They told us to leave the Hollywood and go to either Sam's Town or The Resorts. We took their advice and left.
The Good: Sam's Town and the Resorts
We went to Sam's Town because we had a coupon for $20 in free slot play. When my husband and I signed up for our cards we were each given a bonus gift of an extra $5 of slot play. We played at Sam's Town for almost an hour simply on the free play money we were given. The slots weren't paying out huge amounts, but they were paying so we walked away feeling that at least we were given a chance to win something.
We had the same experience at The Resorts. While the machines weren't paying large amounts, they were paying and you could play without feeling that you were being cheated.
If we ever go back to Tunica—which I seriously doubt—we will stay at either Sam's Town or the Resorts and stay away from the more glitzy places.
Visit Tunica? Never Again!
All in all, I would have to say that this was the absolute worst trip my husband and I have ever taken. For the money we wasted, we could have taken a cruise or gone somewhere nice and really enjoyed ourselves. We chose to go to Tunica over Las Vegas because we thought that our money would buy more, but that was a huge mistake on our part.
Don't make the mistake that we did—steer clear of the casinos in Tunica, Mississippi. Don't waste your time. You can replicate the same feeling you get when you leave a casino in Tunica by simply going into your garage and hitting yourself in the foot with a hammer several times.
© 2010 mikicagle