In Missouri, the mayor for the small town of Rockaway Beach has told residents that he intends to launch a second attempt to bring a casino to the resort community in the Ozark Mountains.
According to a report from local television broadcaster KOLR-TV, Don Smith revealed that he believes a majority of residents are in favour of opening a casino in the town of only 841 despite losing a 2004 effort that sought to change the state’s constitution, which dictates that such venues can only be located on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
Rockaway Beach is located on the banks of the White River in Taney County some ten miles north of the vacation destination of Branson and Smith stated that he constantly receives telephone enquiries from potential casino investors. He moreover declared that he hopes to build a coalition of civic leaders in order to pave the way towards the legalization of gambling in southwest Missouri.
“We are also going to meet with Cherokee Nation Entertainment and that’s going to be coming up pretty soon [as] they called me last night,” Smith told KOLR-TV. “I have several contacts in Jefferson City [and] we’ve already got a lobbyist on this and it is growing fast. This thing, it’s going to go this time.”
Smith explained that about 55% of Rockaway Beach residents supported bringing a casino to the area in 2004 while public opposition was seemingly fueled primarily by Herschend Family Entertainment, which operates several theme parks in nearby Branson including Silver Dollar City and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction. The Atlanta-based firm argued at the time that legalizing casino gambling would disrupt the integrity of the area as a family-friendly destination.
“Branson is shuttling their tourists out of the state, out of the state to go to casinos,” Smith told KOLR-TV. “People love casinos, they’re a blast, and why in the world would we lose that much state revenue, why, just for no reason.”
Smith’s efforts could be significantly helped by the neighboring state of Arkansas as voters there are set to go to the polls in November to decide if a casino should be legalized for Boone County, which forms part of the southern state’s border with Missouri and sits only 23 miles from Rockaway Beach.