Long Beach casino a step closer to becoming reality, residents react

Long Beach casino a step closer to becoming reality, residents react

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Residents of Long Beach have heard about the possibilities of a casino in their town for years. Now with the Gaming Commission’s site approval on Wednesday, a casino is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Dick Dickens' house was one of the first homes rebuilt south of the tracks in Long Beach following Hurricane Katrina.

From Dickens' front yard, he can see the proposed casino property. Although a casino across the street would change his view, Dickens welcomes the development, saying Long Beach has plenty of projects added revenue could pay for.

“Look at my corners here at the holes in the pavement and sidewalks we need,” Dickens said. “There’s a lot that could be done around the city with more revenue.”

Just down the street, Ronda Debautte moved into her home only a month ago. Debautte has mixed emotions about a casino. She said what concerns her most is the possibility of more crime.

“I don’t want things being taken from our homes because they’re trying to find money to gamble with,” Debautte said.

If a police presence is increased to help keep her neighborhood safe, Debautte could get on board with the casino idea if it meant lower taxes.

“Our property tax around here is one of the highest along the Coast,” Debautte said. “Anything that could help us, of course we’ll be for that.”

On U.S. Highway 90, Gus Harris has been cooking seafood in the Cajun Crawfish Hut for almost two decades. If a casino and 300-room hotel is built, Harris thinks he’ll be able to sell a lot more crawfish.

“I think it’s going to have a very strong impact on all the businesses in Long Beach,” Harris said.

In addition to bringing in more business, Harris believes the overall impact of a new casino would be positive for his city.

“I’ve been hoping for it because I think Long Beach needs it,” Harris said.

Before the developer can break ground, the Gaming Commission must approve the plans and make sure the project meets specific guidelines.

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