LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -The debate continues over a proposed $180 million casino in Long Beach.
It would sit on property north of U.S. Highway 90, across from the harbor. The developer, Long Beach Harbor Resorts, would build a 300-room hotel along with three restaurants to go along with 40,000 square feet of gaming space. It seems, though, that not everyone is on board with the idea of a casino in the Friendly City.
Stephanie Mankiewicz is a realtor who does a lot of business in Long Beach. These days, some of her clients are asking questions she’s never heard before.
“His question was, out of the blue, maybe I should just sell now instead of sit on it because when the casino’s come in, is it going to help it or hurt it?” she said.
For his part, Long Beach Mayor George Bass said he’s in favor of a casino operating across from the harbor. One of the reasons why is the city has been run on the backs of homeowners for far too long.
“Some of the older citizens, the younger citizens that have been here for 20 or 30 years, they want us to have some type of business, and a casino coming here is a legal business,” Bass explained.
The Friendly City is also a safe city, according to recent crime stats. There are more questions about that since casino talk began.
“We’ve gotten this safety rating now two or three years straight, and so the question I got was, is that suddenly going to go the other direction? Or is it going to get even better when a casino comes because we’ll have maybe more dollars for the police?" Mankiewicz said.
The mayor offered an answer.
“We’re one of the safest cities in the state. With our crime rate here, the crime rate is not going to go up,” he said.
What about the small town charm of Long Beach? Would a casino change that?
“The city is growing, but it still has where people know everybody. My neighbor owns a salon in downtown Long Beach. Everywhere you go in Long Beach, people say ‘I know him, I know her,’ and not every city has that," Mankiewicz said.
The mayor felt that buying or selling a home won’t be impacted by a casino because of what was located in the past on the proposed casino site.
“Before Katrina on the old K-Mart site, there was a K-Mart, there was a Sav-A Center, there was a Hallmark card shop, there were other little shops. They didn’t change where the people lived," Bass said.
A casino for Long Beach is still possibly years away. That’s because officials with Long Beach Harbor Resorts still have to obtain funding for the project and have to be found suitable by the state gaming commission.