Leave casinos in the water offshore

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 23, 2005

Dear Editor,

House Bill 1268 passed the House and the Senate and was signedby the governor last spring. The law took effect July 1, 2005, andallows a gaming licensee to construct permanent structures uponwhich to place the vessel or cruise vessel where legal gaming isbeing conducted. None of the casinos had time to take advantage ofbuilding permanent structures in the water.

Since Katrina hit, all the talk has been about moving thecasinos ashore. The fact is the casinos will be just as safe on apermanent structure in three feet of water as they will be on thebeach. The difference is that in the water, the casinos areregulated by the Gaming Commission, the secretary of state, theDepartment of Marine Resources, the Department of EnvironmentalQuality, and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.

Most of the casinos are on public property and pay rent inaddition to state and local taxes.

If the casinos move onto the beach, the Gaming Commission willhave virtually complete control over the casinos. Why is thisimportant?

* The Gaming Commission serves as a promotional tool for thegaming industry.

* The Gaming Commission is composed of three members, appointedby the governor. It would take only two appointed members tocontrol the commission and, thus, the casinos in Mississippi.

* In practice, much deference is given to the home region ofeach gaming commissioner. This gives a single commissioner from thecoast great power.

* No one directly elected by the people will have anysignificant role in regulating the casino industry.

Contact your legislators. Tell them to keep casinos in thewater. They can build back on permanent structures. That is alreadya law. Let’s keep them regulated by a number of agencies and keepthem from spreading all over our state.

Dr. Lee Yancey,

Christian Action Commission,

Jackson