Legislature Set To Consider Controversial Gaming Bill

South Mississippi has survived one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history. Now a storm is raging over proposed legislation that would allow onshore gaming.

The House passed the measure for onshore gaming on Friday. The Senate is set to consider the bill Monday.

Under House Bill 45, casinos would have the option of moving 800 feet inland.

Sam Graves has been spending a lot of time helping others since Katrina turned his life upside down and left him with no place to work.

"I was a line cook. I worked in the banquet department doing desserts," Graves said.

Graves spent the last six years serving up sweets for customers at the Grand Casino in Biloxi.

Like thousands of other casino workers, he now has no job to report to and is uncertain about his future. But he's holding out to see how proposed legislation for on-shore gaming will pan out.

"People want to stay here, we want to rebuild, you know, and that would be a way of helping to do it on a more economical basis," he said.

Graves says approving on shore gaming will put many people back to work and trickle down into other sectors of the economy.

"Look at all the other industries it supports, paper products, food companies, things like that, you know, are all being lost," Graves said.

State Representative Michael Janus has already voted in favor of onshore gaming. He hopes the Senate will follow the House's lead.

"Certainly we need to allow these casinos to get open. There's 17,000 direct jobs, and I'm told some 20 or so thousand indirect jobs that rely on this industry. So we've got to get them open," Janus said.

Just when and where that will happen now lies in the hands of state lawmakers.

The bill would allow casinos to move onshore only in restricted areas of Harrison and Hancock counties.