Mississippi OK’s land-based casinos

Oct 4, 2005 6:35 AM

The Mississippi Senate on Monday passed a bill that will allow casinos to be built on land and to begin temporary gambling operations, a spokesman for Harrah’s Entertainment said on Monday.

The state’s House of Representatives last week passed a bill allowing casinos to be built within 800 feet of water or, in one area of Harrison County, as far back as the boundary of Highway 90.

The official said there were no conflicts in the legislation and that signing the bill by Governor Haley Barbour was imminent.

Religious leaders, including the state’s powerful Baptist Convention, have protested moving casinos to land, arguing that they foster gambling addiction and do not help families.

But casino operators and local officials have said the ability to build on land is key to the storm-battered region’s recovery and redevelopment. Mississippi casinos employ almost 29,000 people and bring in $500,000 a day in state revenue.

Harrah’s, which employs about 5,000 people in the Gulf Coast region and another 6,000 near Tunica, is Mississippi’s second largest employer.

Other companies with Mississippi casinos shut down by Katrina include Penn National Gaming, Isle of Capri and Pinnacle Entertainment.