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Mississippi Gambling News Brief
Legalized gambling lifts a depressed town
Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 2:49:06 PM
About 20 miles south of Memphis, along the Mississippi River, Tunica County, Miss., used to be a popular stop for journalists and politicians looking to be appalled by black poverty.
In 1985, Jesse Jackson visited the town of Tunica, the county seat, and pronounced it "America's Ethiopia." Then "60 Minutes" showed up and spent some time in Sugar Ditch Alley, a neighborhood of crumbling shacks named for its open sewer.
Henry Nickson, 31, grew up there. "When I got to college and told people I was from Tunica, the first thing they'd say was 'Sugar Ditch.'" By the time Nickson was a senior at Jackson State University, things were different: "People would say, 'Tunica? Y'all got all that money.'"
"All that money" comes from the nine Vegas-style casinos that have sprung up amid the cotton, soybean and rice fields in the northern part of Tunica County. In 1990 the state legislature legalized dockside gambling in the strapped counties along the river and Gulf Coast. While several counties rejected the idea, Tunica grabbed it.
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