ad info

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Casino wins with job program gamble

Residents of Tunica, Mississippi, an impoverished region, travel 50 miles to the Grand Casino Hotel to find work  
From Correspondent Brian Cabell

TUNICA, Mississippi (CNN) -- Almond Washington doesn't mind a 50-mile daily commute through the flats of the Mississippi Delta. She, in effect, hits the job jackpot at the Grand Casino every day.

Washington, a mother of three, had received $120 a month on welfare in the historically impoverished Mississippi Delta. Now, as a maid in one of the casino's three hotels, she earns $300 dollars a week.

The bright pink bus that takes her and co-workers to the casino is helping change many lives in the region, where unemployment in some communities had been close to 30 percent.

"There's nothing to find," Washington said of work around Tunica County. "You can find a little of that, a little of that. But it's not paying nothing."

Together, the nine casinos in the county have created 15,000 jobs in the last five years. And still they need more workers.

"I think the smallest number of job openings that at any point in time we've ever had has been 100," says Bill Baker of the Grand Casino. "And we've had up to 500 at one point."

The employee shortage became so acute that a year and a half ago the casino "adopted" a couple of Delta towns. It helped finance a day care center, sports programs, and a job program designed to prepare residents, most of them on welfare, for casino jobs.

Four hundred residents have completed a weeklong training program, which emphasizes proper dress and grooming, promptness and effective communication. All of them have obtained jobs.

About 200 of them remain employed. The casino says the turnover rate is not bad, considering that most of the program's participants have not had steady jobs in years, if ever.

This part of the Mississippi Delta has benefited greatly from the program. The casino finds much-needed employees. The residents welcome the jobs. And the state lowers the welfare rolls.

"I've got me a living room set. I got me a stove," Washington says. "I'm paying on my house. Now you know the Lord blessed me."

Gambling study: More women hitting the tables
February 8, 1999
Study finds more than 5 million pathological or problem gamblers
March 18, 1999

Grand Casino Tunica
Mississippi Casinos
The Mississippi Gaming Commission
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.