New Legislation Offers Hope for Workers, Gaming Industry and Economy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/08/05

New Legislation Offers Hope for Workers, Gaming Industry and Economy

Casino executives are calling it a major victory.

After more than a week of debating, state lawmakers finally reached an agreement regarding on shore gaming and the issue of tidelands funds.

The agreement was reached late Friday night, and its affects are already apparent.

As crews work to clear debris from the Treasure Bay site in Biloxi, security guard John Burks keeps a close eye on the property.

n this day, there's a new glimmer of hope for Burks and thousands of other casino employees now that the state legislature has approved on shore gaming.

"I think everyone's looking forward to it. They want to come back to work and get some kind of normalcy in their lives," Burks said.

And according to the executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators' Association, casino executives aren't wasting any time with plans to move forward.

"Actually, we've got several who have already started to meet with architects and also contractors to see about getting the ball rolling and trying to get these hotels to get the ball rolling and trying to get these hotel casinos capable," said Beverly Martin, Executive Director of the Mississippi Casino Operators' Association.

But as Mississippi's coast casinos begin to rebuild, the mayor of New Orleans is pushing to lure more casinos to the Big Easy, a measure that could potentially impact the coast's gaming market

"If Louisiana gets any more land based casinos, of course, it will have an impact on us, as it did when Harrah's first opened. The one thing, though, that we do have, is the beautiful Mississippi beaches, which maybe aren't so beautiful right now but will be before it's over and done with," Martin said, "...and our city's always been relatively low on crime, and there's just a lot more here to offer than there is in the state of Louisiana."

Martin believes it will be about three years before the coast's gaming market is built back up to what it used to be.

Meanwhile, thousands of coast casino employees like John Burks have committed to stay here on the coast and help out with the rebuilding process.

By: Toni Miles

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