Considering it's the last/first party of the year, you don't want your New Year's Eve celebration to be a gamble. Fortunately, Mid-South casinos offer a safe best for revelers ringing in the New Year.
There is a certain uniformity to most of the parties, with all nine Tunica County, Miss., casinos promoting a midnight countdown with free party favors, a complimentary champagne toast, and, in the case of Hollywood and Sam's Town, a balloon drop.
In addition, Fitzgerald's, Gold Strike, Hollywood, Horseshoe, and Tunica Roadhouse casinos are all offering New Year's Eve food specials at their high-end as well as casual restaurants and buffets.
But there is also plenty that sets the different celebrations apart, too:
Bally's Tunica (1450 Bally Blvd., Tunica Resorts, Miss.) features live, free music by Derrick Joseph beginning at 8 p.m. Call (800) 382-2559 or visit ballystunica.com.
Fitzgerald's Casino (711 Lucky Lane) will set their New Year's party to the tune of four bands -- Say It Ain't So, Crazy Flame, The Fabulous Steeler Band, and Ms. Nickki -- performing free at the Stage Bar on the casino floor throughout the night. Call (800) 766-5825 or visit fitzgeraldstunica.com.
Likewise, Gold Strike Casino (1010 Casino Center Dr.) will feature two free bands in its Stage2 venue on the casino floor, with Almost Famous playing from 6 to 10 p.m. and Gabby Johnson rocking in 2012 from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Call (888) 245-7529 or visit goldstrike.com.
Harrah's Tunica Casino's Event Center (13615 Old Highway 61 North) will be transformed into a European-style circus, complete with acrobats, aerialists, and fire dancers, as part of their Ciroc du Night New Year's Eve Celebration co-sponsored by the French vodka company Ciroc. DJ Ben Cohen will provide music for the party, which starts at 10 p.m. and goes until 2 a.m. Tickets are $20 in advance through Ticketmaster or $35 at the door.
Meanwhile, Harrah's Funny Bone comedy club will feature comic Buzz Sutherland, a college favorite who has won comedian of the year five times from the National Association of Campus Activities and four times from the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. Sutherland, whose stand at the Funny Bone runs Dec. 27-Jan. 1 and Jan. 4-8, will perform two shows on New Year's Eve, one at 7:30 p.m. and another at 10 p.m. that culminates with a midnight countdown and champagne toast. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $15-$18. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $25. Tickets are available by phone at (662) 357-4242 online at funnybonetunica.com. Call (800) 946-4946 or visit harrahstunica.com.
Hollywood Casino's Safari Bar Lounge (1150 Casino Strip Blvd.) will have live, free music by Ricky Lynn Gregg from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (800) 871-0711 or visit hollywoodcasinotunica.com.
The Horseshoe Casino (1021 Casino Center Dr.) will cap its 60th anniversary year with a "60 Years of Swagger" celebration at its Tunica location New Year's Eve. Free live entertainment on the Stage Bar includes sets by Terry Mike Jeffrey, Rob & the Rage, and the Soul Shockers while Las Vegas Showgirls will be dancing on the casino floor throughout the night. Call (800) 303-7463 or visit horseshoetunica.com.
Resorts Tunica (1100 Casino Strip Blvd.) will feature free music by The Mudpuppies from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (866) 676-7070 or visit resortstunica.com.
Sam's Town Casino (1477 Casino Strip Blvd.) will have free, live music in The Atrium at the casino's main entrance with Brian McComas performing from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and at the Roxy's Live lounge upstairs country singer Bobby Marquez from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (800) 456-0711 or visit samstowntunica.com.
Tunica Roadhouse's Riverstage Bar (1107 Casino Center Dr.) will feature free, live performances by The Mudflap Kings, 5-9 p.m., and Lafayette, La., group Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (800) 391-3777 or visit tunica-roadhouse.com.
And finally, across the river in West Memphis, Southland Greyhound Park (1550 Ingram Blvd.) will mark the occasion with Big Top Bash 4, its annual circus-themed celebration. From 5 p.m. to midnight, those attending will be able enjoy rides, including a Ferris Wheel and something ominously called Nemesis 360, set up on a makeshift fairway in the parking lot. Carnival games will kick in at 8 p.m. and run to 10 p.m. Complimentary fair food such as popcorn, cotton candy, and funnel cakes will be handed out 9-11 p.m. Circus performers, including jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, magicians, and balloon artists will prowl the grounds 9 p.m.-1 a.m., and acclaimed local turntable master DJ Crumbz will entertain in The Juke Joint music lounge.
Call (800) 467-6182 or visit southlandpark.com.