Gaming commission discusses smoke free casinos

BILOXI (WLOX) - The state House Gaming committee came to the Coast Wednesday. This was a public meeting that gave anyone interested a chance to speak to the committee.

An estimated 50 people were on hand, and that group included casino representatives, businessmen, and just people curious to hear what the commission had to say.

The issue that garnered the most attention was a proposal to ban smoking in all casinos regulated by the state.

State representative John Mayo is a long time representative from North Mississippi. Mayo plans to introduce a bill that would ban smoking in all casinos.

Even he admits, it has a slim chance of passing. In fact, Mayo has introduced a similar bill each of the last seven years and it never made it out of committee.

Another issue that came up, was casino taxes. They have not been raised since casinos were first approved years ago.

Committee chairman, Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto, says it won't happen.

"We understand, where Mississippi lies in the whole taxing structure, " Moak told WLOX News.

"We have no plans to raise any taxes on the gaming industry, period, end of story."

One other issue that garnered a lot of attention was the legislatures vote three years ago, to allow casinos to locate within 800 feet of the mean tide line.

One coast resident suggested the lawmakers take another look at the bill, so they can clarify it.

However, several committee members warned, if the law comes back before the legislature, there is always the possibility

lawmakers could reconsider, and in a worse case, even vote to ban casino gaming in Mississippi.

Chairman Moak said the 800 foot law is a good one, and there is no plan to reconsider it.

By Jeff Lawson