Long Beach Casino Debate Resurfaces - Wednesday 21st of June 2006

LONG BEACH, Mississippi – As reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald: "Hurricane Katrina ripped up Long Beach's waterfront and brought an old debate to the surface: Should this city allow casinos?

"City officials of this bedroom community have repeatedly rejected casino proposals, but the last time a referendum occurred was a decade ago. Sixty-five percent of the people voted against casinos then. Another special election is scheduled for June 27.

"'The first time gaming was voted on in a non-binding referendum, the people didn't know what it was going to turn out like,' said Frank Olaivar. 'They didn't know the benefits or the pluses or the minuses. I think people have a better idea now. They can make an educated decision off what has actually happened and what they thought might happen.'

"As president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Long Beach Planning Commission, Olaivar is one of the key leaders helping to chart the city's future. The chamber has given the city the money to cover a non-binding referendum with a $15,000 contribution from A&A Management Group. The company is owned by Alexandra L. Damiens and Audriana L. Neyland, daughters of Jimmy Levens, a former Long Beach alderman.

"…The referendum is non-binding because by state law only a countywide vote can permit casinos along the Coast and the Mississippi River. The election will help Skellie and the aldermen gauge what their constituents want. For a casino to go into Long Beach, city leaders would have to enact a zoning ordinance that allows gambling…"

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