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The decline of Tunica’s flagship casino industry manifested itself again Tuesday with Tunica Roadhouse Casino announcing its gaming operations will end in January.

Owner Caesars Entertainment pointed to increased competition as the main driver behind the gaming space closing.

According to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, the Roadhouse Casino had 377 non-hotel employees in October.

Now, as the company shuts down that operation, officials are asking what’s next for the space and figuring out how to lift an economy so reliant on the gaming industry.

When Tunica’s first casino opened in 1992, there were far fewer commercial casino options, said Webster Franklin, president and CEO of the Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau.

November 28 2018 - A mostly empty parking lot surrounds the Tunica Roadhouse Casino around lunchtime on Wednesday.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced Tuesday it will cease gaming operations at Tunica Roadhouse Casino, effective January 31, 2019, according to a press release.

Tunica soon transformed from an agriculture-driven community to a gambling destination as other casinos popped up in the area.

But more competition popping up throughout the country has dented Tunica’s collective casino operations, not just Roadhouse, Franklin said.

The Great Recession and the 2011 Mississippi River floods also hurt business, he added.

Annual gross gaming revenues at casinos in Mississippi River counties have been steadily declining, according to Mississippi Department of Revenue figures.

In 2006, those counties brought in $1.66 billion in revenue.