Casino Supporters Cheer On Shore Signing

Governor Barbour pulled into the Biloxi Win Job Center like a conquering hero. Casino employees stood in the parking lot and applauded. Why? Because in the governor's car was the bill that basically saved Kelly Trosclair's job.

"It's very important. I mean this is my livelihood," Trosclair said.

Her livelihood got rudely interrupted by a hurricane that rudely tossed casino barges into historic buildings, oak trees, and anything else on the wrong side of Highway 90.

"My family depends on this income," she said.

That was on lawmakers' minds when rallied together during the last special session. They determined the best way to save that income -- and south Mississippi's casino industry -- was to make Mississippi history.

"This is House Bill 45," the governor said, as he got ready to sign the legislation. "This allows casinos to move on shore."

For Marie Borzik, the new legislation gives a 12 year casino veteran "the opportunity to continue my employment. And it gives the coast the opportunity to grow."

Before Governor Barbour signed the legislation, he emphasized that moving Harrison and Hancock County casinos up to 800 feet inland was vital to the area's post Katrina growth "so that more people would get back to work sooner. And that ultimately, many more people will be employed here on the coast. That's what this was really about."

That -- and saving an industry that meant $500 million a year in taxes to Mississippi before the Katrina disaster.

"They're a great taxpayer,'' Barbour told several dozen people at the bill signing ceremony.

Listen to what Sen. Tommy Gollott proudly told the casino supporters.

"We'll come back bigger, better, stronger," he said, noting that casinos on land would create a more secure industry. And they would no longer be on land because a hurricane tossed the casinos there, but because the legislature moved them there.

Borzik had this message for the house and the senate.

"I want them to understand the importance," the casino worker said, "and how much we appreciate what this has done for us."

Most coast casino executives have said they'll take advantage of the new on shore legislation. Right now, their plans build casinos in hotels. Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis still have to rezone the areas where the casinos would like to move.