Long Beach May Vote Again On Casinos

Alderman Allen Holder will propose putting a non-binding referendum on city ballots. He wants to see if the hurricane changed viewpoints about casinos in his financially strapped city.

Holder's day job is selling cars. And he's been very busy since Katrina flooded so many automobiles. His part-time job is serving as Long Beach's alderman at large. In that role, he's pitching a casino concept for a hurricane ravaged city that's always said 'No' to the idea.

"We've just got to do something," the alderman at large said. "I think we need something that's going to be the catalyst to get us started."

Holder thinks the solution may be the surest bet his city can make.

"Things have changed since the storm. Land based, we know the legislature has passed that," said Holder. "I think it's time Long Beach looked at it again."

Don't forget, in 1993, Long Beach held a non binding gaming referendum. The question was whether the city should lease public property here in the Long Beach harbor to a casino developer. Almost 66% of the voters back then opposed that idea.

Today Darwell Yeager still questions the need for a casino in Long Beach under these circumstances.

"I don't want to see citizens on either side of the gaming fence forced into an issue because of Katrina," the restaurant worker said. "And that's what we have. We all have to realize that."

Holder pointed out that his non-binding vote wouldn't have anything to do with harbor leases.

"This is going to be a lot on private property now. And so I think you're looking at a whole different ballgame here," he said. "I mean, we're looking at a different playing field."

Holder said the playing field changed as soon as Katrina altered the landscape and the finances of Long Beach. And so an aldermen who once opposed a casino in the harbor, is now ready to consider a casino 800 feet inland.

"We need to get on this bandwagon."

One estimate being passed around Long Beach says a $50 million casino development would add $4 million to the city's tax base.

The Long Beach board meets Tuesday night at 6:30. And WLOX News will have a crew there covering the gambling debate.