Proposed study to assess Shelby County casino gambling - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Proposed study to assess Shelby County casino gambling

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The idea of casino gambling in Shelby County is officially up for debate in a proposed feasibility study.

The bill is in early stages, and its author Representative Larry Miller wasn't ready to talk about it Saturday night.

However, the bill would create a special joint committee to study feasibility, logistics, casino laws and economic impact.

Across the Mississippi River to West Memphis is where many of Memphians flock to Southland Park.

On any given day, dozens of Shelby County plates fill the parking lot.

Len Sherry loves the idea of not having to take the journey across the river.

"Because Memphis needs something like that. The fairground is gone," said Sherry.

According to Sherry, it could be good for local business.

"The growth of gambling the last 25 years is mostly about tax revenue," he said.

University of Memphis Director of the Institute for Gambling and Education Research Jim Whelan said research already shows the impact a possible casino could have on the community.

"I don't think it's an economic issue, I don't think economists would talk about it as a problem for a community to introduce gaming," he said.

He said in this day and age gambling venues and opportunities are easily available.

"Because it's more accessible, it increases the acceptability," said Whelan.

That means there needs to be more education about possible additions, and the dangers of betting too much money. However, this does not just apply inside casinos.

"We have people who are online gamblers, people who (place) sports (bets), people who bet in machines in bars," said Whelan.

Whalen said his studies show that putting a casino in Memphis wouldn't drive more to people to gamble, just the ones currently doing it would do it closer to home.

He said that was proven when Southland opened. Revenues in Tunica fell, but the combined amount of dollars being spent did not increase.

If the bill were to pass, the committee would have until Feb. 1 of next year to present its findings.

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