The Tunica-Biloxi Gaming Authority, the owner and operator of the Paragon Casino Resort, retained Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) to provide gaming, hospitality and entertainment consulting services to its Marksville facility back on April 30, 2016. Paragon’s owning tribe. The Tunica-Biloxi people, first appeared in the Mississippi Valley. In the late 1700s, they settled near Marksville, where they were skilled traders and entrepreneurs. Today, the Tribe has more than 1,200 members throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe received federal recognition in 1981 for its reservation within the boundaries of Louisiana. The tribe owns and operates the Paragon Casino Resort, the largest employer in Central Louisiana.
Our friend and guest writer Joe Freda of Reload Sports recently visited the resort in Louisiana and was willing to share a trip report with us, since New England’s Mohegan tribe provides so many services to the property. Joe has written for us before, as in his on New England Blackjack Report report. A little about Joe….
Joe Freda has been an avid gambler and writer for the past two decades, covering casino and sports wagering. His efforts include several years of articles at Sportsbook Review and Don Best Sports, while enjoying trips for blackjack, craps, and poker throughout North and Central America. Freda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter (@ReloadSports).
After a few months away from the casino scene, my host at Mohegan Sun hit me up with an offer I could not refuse. A group of players were being invited for a private charter flight down to the Paragon Casino Resort in Louisiana, which Mohegan Sun partly manages. We would receive all travel expenses and dining comped, while also getting a free entry in a $50,000 slot tournament.
Out of the snow – Into the south
My journey started off with a challenge of a snowstorm hitting Connecticut the day before our flight to Louisiana was scheduled. I opted to then stay at Mohegan Sun for two nights prior to leaving in order to not have travel issues. While this was a bit dangerous in adding more nights of gambling to the mix, I was able to hold my own in some wild swings at baccarat and Pai Gow Poker.
As the morning arrived for our group to leave for the airport, there I was finishing up an all-nighter of play in the Casino of the Earth. I headed for our bus with my luggage and quickly fell asleep as we made our way to Bradley Airport in Hartford. We went through some security screening and then boarded the private plane.
It took about three hours of flying to reach Alexandria, Louisiana where we got on buses that took us to nearby Marksville. Arriving at the Paragon, our group was treated to a welcome mixer with appetizers and drinks as we got situated. Being without sleep the night before, I took an extended nap and did not get any play in that evening.
The next day I began making the gambling rounds, starting with a free $15 play used in the 88 Fortunes slot machine. I ran the credits through and cashed out $17 of real money, while then heading off for the casino’s high-limit room. The crew nicely had that area entirely reserved for our group, expecting big blackjack and baccarat action from us.
I started off with a few hands of mini-baccarat along with an Asian gentleman on the trip (Mr. Zheng). Betting banker on every hand like I usually do helped me come out ahead a few black chips after one shoe. Then I got to sit down for some double-deck blackjack, which is a real treat as it is not offered very much in the northeast. The rules were also among the best in the country you will find, allowing double downs after splits and the dealer staying on soft 17’s.
After a long day of blackjack, it was time to indulge in some dining at Big Daddy E’s Cajun grill. I enjoyed some barbequed ribs and a couple of locally brewed beers. Then I hit a couple of shops finding out I had generously earned $350 in comp dollars. I bought some nice golf shirts and Black Clover hats, while treating my companion to some new shoes and a Vera Bradley bag.
The next day was our $50,000 slot tournament and unfortunately my score was among the lowest. Several patrons in my group made out handsomely with the top 25 finishers being paid some plentiful slot play, and the winner receiving $25,000 in cash. I did manage to hit for $200 on the Fu Nan Fu Nu slot machine while waiting around and that was at least a nice consolation. It was my hope to try some video poker as well, but the pay tables looked a bit subpar.
I enjoyed one last dinner at the Legendary Steakhouse with an excellent filet mignon and sides big enough to share. Soon the morning came and it was time for the return journey to Connecticut. The trip back went well and I opted to stay another night at Mohegan Sun upon arrival to rest up in a Sky Suite.
Overall, I give the Paragon a thumbs up and feel it will be going places with Mohegan Sun’s management behind it. The staff there took our group’s arrival seriously and you can tell it was all hands on deck to make it a success. I also thought the experience of a private charter trip was very nice and well organized. If your host gives you the chance, I advise taking the plunge!