The Hattiesburg American Editorial, 5/19/8

Gov. Haley Barbour’s proposal to restrict casinos to counties where they already exist is a good idea that merits serious legislative consideration.

Barbour told the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi that he intended to put the matter on the agenda of an upcoming special legislative session.

Whether there is sufficient urgency to justify its consideration before the next regular session is questionable, but the concept is sound.

For years this newspaper editorially opposed legalized gambling of any kind, and we have always thought it unwise for communities to pin their entire economic development hopes on casinos. But 16 years after the first one opened, the casino industry is an economic fixture in the state, and though there have been social costs, their impact in providing jobs and spinoff development on the Gulf Coast and in the depressed Delta region is undeniable. The state, as well as those local communities, are now dependent on the tax revenue they generate for basic services.