Portsmouth council votes to support casino proposal

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 7:38 AM

UPDATE DEC. 19TH: Portsmouth's city council voted Wednesday night 4-3 to support the proposal, that if passed by the General Assembly, could possibly bring casino gambling to the city.  Mayor Kenneth Wright was one of the three members who opposed the proposal. "There's absolutely nothing good about bringing a casino to Portsmouth," Wright told 13News Now.

Councilman Curtis Edmonds said, "It will lure people into a den of poverty, bankruptcy, lewdness, wickedness, murder, crime, and hold-ups."

Those in favoer of a casino like Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas say it would be huge boost in taxes for the city, and it would create jobs.

The General Assembly will ultimately decide if casino gambling would be allowed in Portsmouth. The new session begins in January. Both sides agree that it is unlikely to pass.

 

UPDATE DEC. 18:  On Tuesday, nearly 30 people came to the Portsmouth Council meeting to talk about whether they want casino gambling in their city, but no vote occurred.

According to the Virginian Pilot, four members believed they were voting on the matter Tuesday, but the council couldn't do it because the city's advertisement for the meeting said nothing about a vote.

So all those who filled City Council chambers left not knowing where the council stood.

Portsmouth Council agreed to reconvene at 9 p.m. Wednesday to vote on whether they support state Sen. Louise Lucas' recent bill to allow it in Portsmouth.

PORTSMOUTH- Is pursuing casino gambling a good bet?  

Portsmouth City Council will hold a public hearing on the issue Tuesday.

In a 13News Now special report, developers said they see Hampton Roads as prime real estate for land-based casinos.

Also, a recent study by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization found gross revenues from a Hampton Roads casino would be about $375 million a year. Hampton Roads would get about $113 million a year from tax revenues. However, the report also suggests casinos could also lead to increased poverty among some gamblers, a possible increase in crime and gambling addiction.

Mayor Kenny Wight told 13News Now in November he has to know more about it before he could support a casino.

"I'm not there yet.  I want to see all the facts. I want to know what's it going to cost, the Commonwealth, the city, who's going to take care of those burdens and how the money is distributed," he said.

The idea is popular based on comments posted on the WVEC13 Facebook page.

Michael Deely wrote, "Even if the state doesn't get the money, at least it will create jobs."

Penny Rorrer said, "It would bring in more tourist dollars (especially over the winter months)...but not sure the benefits would outweigh the negatives that come with organized gambling."

Toni Montgomery Gonzales added, "We already have organized gambling in the area with the betting locations for the race track. Casinos are the only thing keeping a state like NV afloat. I'm all for it if it would help the economy. That said, I'm not sure Portsmouth is the place for it. If I were a tourist, I wouldn't pick there to go gamble. Hampton would be a better option."

Jill Stroud Moore warns, "I'd support it but I hope the city involved doesn't think it will solve debt issues with the city..it didn't help Detroit when the big named casino's moved in."

The public hearing is Tuesday, December 17th at 6 p.m. at Portsmouth City Council chambers, 801 Crawford Street in downtown.

 

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