(AgapePress) - The Mississippi State Senate has joined House lawmakers in approving a measure that will allow casinos to be built on land just off the Gulf Coast. The two votes came in response to pressure from gambling interests in the state.Source. (emphasis mine)
"They now basically control our state politics," American Family Association chairman Don Wildmon says of the casino owners. "That will not be visible for a year or two or three, but before long, if you're not totally pro-gambling in Mississippi, you better stay out of politics because you don't stand a dog's chance." Wildmon's group, which is based in the Magnolia State, had urged its supporters to contact state lawmakers and the governor to voice their opposition to the proposal.
Prior to the vote, Mississippi law prohibited casinos from being built on land. Casinos were only allowed to operate on water, as barges tethered to piers along the Gulf Coast. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, gambling interests quickly moved to take advantage of the heavy casino damage generated by the storm by asking the legislature to change the law. Governor Haley Barbour urged Senate and House members to make the change, and a majority did.
"Immediately after the legislature gave the gamblers the right to expand their casinos to on-land buildings, even before the ink had dried on the bill, another bill was introduced that would lower the tidelands rent they paid the state," he said.
According to the way the bill reads, Wildmon said, apparently if the casinos choose to stay in the water on government tidewater land, their rent will decrease. "And the casinos which choose to move onto land won't pay the state any rent at all," he added.
So, as if lowering the rent for casinos wasn't good enough, the state has not only allowed them to be built on land but has also basically said "Hey, we know you're greedy and we admire that, so to help you out we'll consider dropping your rent due to us entirely if you'll build on land!"