The Hattiesburg American, 5/19/8

The late Gov. Kirk Fordice used to say he opposed casinos but became a convert when tourists’ money started flowing and he saw that two-thirds of the license plates at Mississippi’s casinos were from out of state.

The first casino opened in August 1992, just a few months into the first of his two terms.

He said strict regulation kept the industry stable through an initial “shaking out period,” but he believed regulation should not be too broad.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission’s regulatory philosophy was molded after Fordice’s own. Free enterprise. Free market. The strong will survive.

For 17 years, the Gaming Commission has let competition decide who can succeed or fail in the highly competitive casino business.

Barbour, who took office in 2004, has consistently said he’s against the expansion of gaming into counties that don’t already have it.