Governor Barbour Speaks To Gaming Industry

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Governor Haley Barbour wants state lawmakers to consider "closing the window" on future casino development. But only in counties where gambling is not allowed.

The governor spoke at Thursday's Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. He plans on including a casino moratorium bill in the upcoming special legislative session.

"To consider closing the window and saying we will not expand gaming beyond the counties where it is now. I think that's the right policy," Governor Barbour told the gaming industry.

A moratorium on new casinos in non-gaming counties will be included in the upcoming special legislative session. It's likely the governor will also ask lawmakers to reconsider the casino tax incentive, a measure that gives casinos tax breaks for building non-gaming projects like hotels and golf courses.

"Cause I have the authority under the law to expand the call even after we've begun the special session. And we commonly do that if we see an issue is ripe and can be resolved. Then often I will add things to the call," says the governor.

Mississippi casino operators were happy to hear the governor's stance on casino taxes: He says they're high enough.

"We shouldn't raise the tax on gaming. We have the third lowest tax rate in the country. And I don't think it's coincidence that we have the third largest industry of any state in the country."

Governor Barbour told the gaming industry he strongly opposes the idea of a lottery in Mississippi.

"If you want to have a tax on the poor, a lottery is about the perfect tax on the poor," he said.

The governor praised the gaming industry for its contributions in helping revive the coast after Katrina. He says that confidence will pay off.

"The future for the Mississippi Gulf Coast is incredibly bright and for your industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Because you're going to have stability. You're going to have stability as long as I'm governor," said Governor Barbour.