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AmTaliban wants to make sure casinos don't return to Mississippi


Professional bible beater (and fag-hater) Don Wildmon wants to spar with Gov. Barbour over sinful gambling on the Gulf Coast.

Since the dollars have stopped rolling in from casino revenues, Governor Barbour is hot to get that source of revenue back online. The bible-beaters at the American Family Association and the Mississippi Baptist Convention would like changes to state law to put gambling up for public referendum. It’s going to be an interesting catfight. Meow.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has called a special session, beginning today (September 27), during which state lawmakers will debate letting Gulf Coast casinos build on land — one of a number of Hurricane Katrina recovery issues the governor hopes the lawmakers will resolve quickly. The August 29 hurricane that killed some 219 people also ravaged the state’s 80-mile coastline: Katrina’s powerful winds and storm surge tossed many of the state’s floating casinos ashore and severely damaged others. Mississippi legalized casino gambling in 1990 but limited it to tourist areas along the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River.

The coast gaming industry was generating $500,000 a day in tax revenue before the hurricane, with 12 casinos operating on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and another set to open this month. State Gaming Commission chairman Jerry St. Pe and executive director Larry Gregory recently met with casino executives in Las Vegas to discuss their companies’ future in Mississippi. St. Pe says most of the casino officials want Mississippi laws changed to allow casinos on land rather than only over water, although “differences of opinion” exist about how far casinos should be allowed inland.

Harrah’s Entertainment released a statement yesterday, saying the company “believes it is critical to move quickly to rebuild the Gulf Coast as a major tourist and entertainment destination,” but that the gambling industry must respond to forecasted future disasters with “safeguards” and needs to “be allowed to implement safer design and construction of casino resorts by allowing them to reside on shore adjacent to current locations.” But according to Associated Press, a Mississippi Baptist Convention spokesman told reporters after Katrina that the convention might press the legislature to outlaw casinos altogether.

Meanwhile, chairman Don Wildmon of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, is hopeful the special session in Jackson will open the door for other possible changes to state law, such as allowing a referendum on gambling, letting the voters vote casinos out (current law does not give voters the option), raising casino taxes, or putting a freeze on where casinos can locate. “Perhaps,” Wildmon notes, “this is a political debate regarding gambling in Mississippi which has been needed for years.”

Perhaps Don and the Baptist Convention can replace that revenue with some slamming church bingo.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding