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Americans Learning to Love Casinos

3 September 2003

BILOXI, Mississippi – As reported by the Sun Herald: ``A decade ago, Mississippi newspaper publisher Roland Weeks felt his community was threatened. Casinos had arrived in Biloxi, bringing with them a bundle of pros and cons, and Weeks sensed the city would soon face trouble.

``…The state had legalized gambling a few years earlier and casinos were beginning to spring up on the Coast, punctuating the ribbon of white sand that fringes the Gulf of Mexico.

``Now 12 casinos have colonized the Coast and, despite calls for a national moratorium on new gambling ventures in the National Gambling Impact Study Commission's 1999 report to Congress, the growth of casinos has shown no sign of abating.

``Weeks, now retired after 33 years as publisher of The Sun Herald, recognizes Biloxi has become part of gambling, but says, "I quite frankly have to say I was wrong. There are a lot of good things that have come from gambling."

``Weeks' change of heart coincides with a broader shift in American attitudes toward gambling. "While older Americans have come to like us, younger adults love us," the American Gaming Association boasted in a recent annual report. It cited polls showing 91 percent of adults ages 21 to 39 find gambling acceptable compared to 81 percent of Americans over age 50.

``…Opponents, however, continue to cite the social costs of legalized gambling, but they are quieter than they used to be…"

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