Long Beach Voters Say "Yes" To Gaming - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach Voters Say "Yes" To Gaming

Several times in the past, Long Beach voters have rejected the idea of bringing casinos to their city. On Tuesday, all that changed. In a non-binding referendum, a majority of voters spoke out in favor of gaming in their city.

Tuesday's vote was much closer than past referendums on the matter - 2,179 people voted for gaming, while 1,801 people voted against it.

Lucille Lassabe was the last person in Ward 2 to cast her vote. She voted "No."

"I found that it brings in a lot of crime and traffic, and I have grandchildren that live here, and I'm just not for the casinos. I'm not for a lot of traffic, and I like the way our town is now," Lassabe said.

Lassabe has lived in Long Beach since 1969. She also voted "No" in the city's three prior votes on casinos. But this time she was not part of the majority.

"I think it's great. The city needs revenue in here if we're going to survive," said Bonnie Bagard, the transportation director for Long Beach Schools.

She believes taxes from legalized gaming would help the city and school system ride out their financial struggles.

"The storm has taken away our town, and it will rebuild it, to give our kids the school that they're used to. If you don't want to gamble, don't go. Casinos are a revenue. It will bring in business," she said.

Alderman At-Large Allen Holder agrees.

"The people have spoken. I hope my fellow aldermen will come together and will move forward on what the citizens of Long Beach want," he said.

The vote on gaming has drawn much controversy, but city officials say the high voter turnout, of nearly 4,000 residents, shows that many people in Long Beach care about what direction their city is taking. 

It's important to emphasize this is a non-binding referendum, essentially an opinion poll. Mayor Billy Skellie says no casino developers have yet to approach the city. 

by Toni Miles

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