WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Will Waveland residents one day see slot machines and poker tables in their city? The mayor and board of aldermen are waiting to see if the governor will sign off on a change to the city's charter that would allow gaming within the city limits. Leaders said without the governor's approval, there isn't any hope of Waveland being able to welcome in a casino.
From snacks to souvenirs, most of the customers who come into Gary Geoffrey's store are out-of-towners.
"We had a lot, a lot of tourists. This weekend was the Fourth of July weekend, and we had probably I would say 80 percent of the people who were here were tourists," said Geoffrey.
Waveland leaders believe a casino would be a good way to attract more tourists to the city, specifically to the area near Coleman Avenue. The mayor and aldermen voted to take out a section of the city charter that forbids gaming.
"We're not misleading anybody. We're not in any negotiations with any casinos," said Mayor David Garcia. "We just didn't want it in there. We wanted to remove it as an economic development engine. Whereas, if Waveland is ever approached or given the opportunity to open a discussion with a casino, we'll be able to open a discussion with them based upon that. Right now the charter would prohibit that discussion from taking place."
Geoffery said a casino would create a much needed economic boost.
"I think it would be great. I think it would bring more businesses in if we had more people to spend the money," said Geoffrey. "Then there would be taxes to use on other things. I get calls, probably eight or 10 calls every day from people that want to work and people that need to work and want something to do. They're tired of living on the government and they want to live on their own. That's what it takes. It takes money to bring people in, and that's what we've got to do."
"I think it would be good for Waveland. A lot of other communities, you can look at what it's done for them," Garcia said. "It's created jobs and brought a lot more money into the city coffers. I don't see any harm it could for Waveland. Casinos have been a positive impact all through the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the state of Mississippi."
Waveland's mayor said the city has not been approached by any casino developers nor is the city recruiting anyone at this time.