The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the Tunica County Circuit Court’s ruling that a law requiring the county to distribute portions of a gaming fee to the town of Tunica and to the Tunica County School District is constitutional.

The Supreme Court stated the county failed to prove the local and private law was unconstitutional.

The Legislature passed House Bill 1002 in 2004. It authorized the Tunica County Board of Supervisors to impose a fee of up to 3.2 percent of gross gaming revenue of its gaming operations. Ten percent of the fee is required to go to the town of Tunica, while 12 percent of those funds most go toward “educational purposes” in the county. A smaller percentage is designated for teacher salary supplementation and training.

When revenue fell between 2007 and 2014, the county supervisors asked the legislators to reduce the amount of the fees directed to the town and the schools, which the Legislature rejected. The county then filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, which the trial court upheld.

Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.