09/07/2005 03:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Good Time to Not Invite the Casinos Back

I was in Gulfport last week. I arrived in Mississippi a day ahead of the President and saw the massive Copa Casino flung from the ocean sitting in what was once a parking lot, 500 feet from its mooring. I wrote about my visit to Gulfport here but one of the things I found very disturbing is that people were already calling for land-based casinos to replace the casino boats. Today the New York Times has done an article on this in the Business Section. A key line from that article is this: Mississippi's casinos pay a 12 percent tax on their winnings, which is among the lowest in the United States.

I hate to point out the obvious, especially during this tragic time, but the people lobbying on behalf of the gaming industry have no such scruples. Mississippi's reliance on a casino economy is a failure. We're talking about the poorest state in the union. And while it's true that many, many people are employed in these monstrosities, many others are bankrupt by them. The casinos produce nothing of value and much of the money they steal is shipped out of state to giant corporate owners. Mississippi should not be looking to rebuild the casinos, should not be offering incentives for the casinos to return, should not be considering changing the laws to allow the casinos to be built on land. Mississippi should be looking to improve its educational facilities and infrastructure and produce things of tangible value, rather than providing a home for slot machines, also known as one-armed bandits.

- Stephen Elliott