Aug 11, 2001 10:09 PM

The state of Washington opened a second casino in Cowlitz County amid debate that its existence could disturb the moral fabric of the community.

Cleopatra's Wild Grizzly Casino began last week in Kelso and has been received well thus far, according to an Associated Press report. The owner, Eric Nelson, operates casinos in Eastern Washington and in other states. The casino, formerly a restaurant, underwent $400,000 in renovations.

The Wild Grizzly is a 15,000-square foot facility that employs 70 workers. Gambling is already big business in the county. Last year more than $24 million was spent on gambling, about one-fifth the amount citizens spent on food at grocery stores.