Thanks to those who opposed slot parlor
Thank you, Gov. Barbour, for taking a stand against the Choctaw Tribal Council's (CTC) construction of a casino near Sandersville in Jones County, Mississippi.
Judging from the publicized information about the Choctaw Tribal Council's proposed 27,000 square-foot building, it sounds like the resulting gambling facility will be dangerously similar to the road houses that plagued McNairy County, Tenn., during the administration of the late Sheriff Buford Pusser.
Gov. Barbour more appropriately termed the proposed facility a "slot parlor."
Instead of the posh casinos that currently dot Mississippi's landscape, the CTC facility will consist of a pre-fabricated metal building with about 500 to 700 slot machines and a snack shop.
No high class shopping venues. No upscale restaurants. No luxurious sleeping accommodations. No unbelievably grand architectural features. Just a huge metal building with slot machines that will somehow lure hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, to part with their money.
In his letter last week to Tracie Stevens, chairwoman of the Indian Gaming Commission, Gov. Barbour implored her to order that further construction on the facility cease because of environmental, public health and safety concerns. Apparently, the gambling facility's construction could jeopardize endangered species, including the Gopher Tortoise, the Red Cockaded Woodpecker and the Black Pine Snake. Additionally, the required environmental impact paperwork had not been filed.
Too, the CTC has no plans to augment the Jones County infrastructure, which is currently being exploited in the construction phase and soon to become an unending drain on local maintenance costs as patrons flock to the facility.
"The pre-fabricated metal building with slots and snacks conflicts with what every Governor of this state has advocated since gaming was legalized: using gaming as an economic development tool, not a drain on the local economy," Gov. Barbour wrote.
The reality of Mississippi's economic picture is that, love them or hate them, casinos have been skillfully ("craftily" may be more accurate) woven into our state's fabric. With sacred cow status, anyone who would challenge legalized gambling is scorned and thought of as unfit to be around. Municipalities have come to rely upon the millions casinos pay in taxes; thousands of Mississippi's families look to casino jobs to put food on their tables and clothes on their backs; and we're becoming used to having a steady diet of world-class entertainment and five-star amenities that only gaming facilities have been able to provide.
Thankfully, many of our state's leaders don't want to compromise those high quality standards in their gambling facilities. Though many Mississippians see casinos as little more than Satan's playground that has sights on becoming another Sin City, at least they're a far cry from the smoky, crime-ridden backrooms where much of the gambling of yesteryear took place.
While the Gopher Tortoise, the Red Cockaded Woodpecker and Black Pine Snake may be threatened by the slot parlor's construction, perhaps an even greater threat would be in allowing the state's gamblers to congregate in facilities that become progressively more like the roadhouses of McNairy County, Tenn. where activities many times more objectionable than gambling occurred.
Today it's a 27,000 square-foot pre-fabricated metal building with 500 to 700 slots and a snack bar. Tomorrow it could and probably would be even less desirable.
Again, thank you, Gov. Barbour for taking a stand. Also registering their objections to the proposed "slot parlor" were the Jones County Board of Supervisors, Sen. Roger Wicker, Congressman Gregg Harper, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Treasurer Tate Reeves, Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney and Commissioner of Agriculture Lester Spell.
A sincere thanks to all the above.