The state College Board on Thursday approved as degree program in casino management at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The decision came after a lengthy debate on the issue and discussion whether they needed an attorney general's legal opinion to continue.
The issue had split the board with some members saying they have the authority now to approve the classes. Others, however, say all legal questions should be settled before action is taken.
The board last month postponed action on a bachelor of science in business administration degree that would put emphasis on casino and resort management.
The delay was so the board could get the legal opinion. No legal opinion was ready Thursday, but board members emerged from a closed door meeting to approve the classes.
Board member Roy Klumb of Gulfport, chairman of the board's Academic Affairs Committee, said Wednesday the board already had the constitutional authority to offer the courses.
Klumb said he received thousands of e-mails this week in opposition to teaching gambling-related courses in the state's public universities. He said the e-mail campaign had been encouraged by the Tupelo-based American Family Association.
He said the courses in question would train casino and resort executives, not employees who would be running the games of chance.
USM Provost Tim Hudson said earlier that the school already faces Gulf Coast competition from a Tulane University branch that teaches all aspects of casino management from accounting to marketing.