Thursday, September 21, 2023

Meek School of Journalism Students Investigate Mississippian Casinos

graphic by Meek School of Journalism students
graphic by Meek School of Journalism students

Casinos in Mississippi: Worth the Gamble is a new documentary produced by the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism that explores the impact of casinos in the state since they were legalized in the 1990s.

Here is the documentary’s trailer.

The documentary, produced by 33 students under guidance of Dr. Brad Schultz and Dr. Kathleen Wickham, investigates how casinos have affected Mississippi for better or worse. Through a series of interviews with state leaders and key figures in the casino industry the half-hour long documentary is a product of interviews and road trips shared by the journalism students. The students focused on the casinos’ history, its socioeconomic effects and its political influence to show the issues and possible solutions for Mississippi to consider.

Natchez, Tunica and Philadelphia were among the cities the journalism students traveled to for in-depth interviews with city officials and residents. Those who worked in Philadelphia focused on the Choctaw Indian reservation that sprawls across 10 counties in east Mississippi (35,000 acres). The members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians found there from Bogue Chitto to Tucker are descended from Choctaw people who refused to relocate to Oklahoma. That organization benefits from the Pearl River Casino Resort which opened in summer of 1994. This led to tension between the tribe and local businesses that also benefit from the casino under its jurisdiction.

Students who reported in Tunica discovered that Tunica, one of the poorest counties in the nation, has benefited from the casinos in 1994. There is an interview with Webster Franklin, president and CEO of Tunica Convention and Visitors’ Bureau where he recalled the town having nothing to offer to tourists save for 20 hotel rooms.But the good times are changing as the casinos lean towards entertainment away from community involvement.

Casinos in Vicksburg and Natchez are also featured and can be seen in the website. Under Dr. Wickham in her Advanced Reporting class the students produced a webpage with supplemental stories and background information. The website can be found here.

Meanwhile the documentary can be viewed on that website. The documentary may air on Mississippi Pubic Broadcasting – but keep those fingers crossed.

Those interested in screening the film may contact Dr. Brad Shultz, director, at You can also find information about the documentary on our official website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Callie Daniels is a staff reporter for She can be reached at