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GOP Wants To Remove Table Games From Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Mar. 1, 2012 10:12 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 1, 2012 10:24 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Taking table games off the table, that's the plan announced Thursday by the West Virginia Republican Party, citing broken promises by the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort.
GOP Chairman Mike Stuart says the casino has failed voters when they passed a referendum in 2007 to allow table games. Now, they want the issue back on the ballot.
"Simply stated, we expect promises made to be promises kept," explained Stuart at a press conference. Cast as a "major announcement" by Republicans, Stuart says his party will try to remove table games from the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort.
"There was a lot of concern five years ago by the voters and there were a lot of assurances that were made that just simply haven't been help up to," explained House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.
Stuart says the casino broke a promise to invest $250 million in new construction. He says the improvements were supposed to be made within 16-months of the vote, and five years later, they haven't been fulfilled.
"Nobody said we were done, number one. Number two, we got hit right on the heels of opening that hotel, we got hit with smoking ban. That smoking ban costs us $22 million," explained Dan Adkins, COO and Vice President of Hartman & Tyner, who owns Mardi Gras.
Other Republicans, including Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, say Stuart's plan doesn't represent the interests of the entire party, calling it a direct attack on good paying jobs.
"These are real people and I would urge him not to do this, and don't do it in the name of the Republican party because that's not fair to those of us who are in favor of tourism and jobs," said Jones.
Adkins says yanking table games would be like dropping a nuclear bomb on the county, directly affecting more than 800 jobs.
"This is the cornerstone that holds things together there. This is the tourism draw. This is what people come here for," said Sub District Director for the U.S. Steelworkers, Randy Moore.
A plan that's got casino workers like Greg Menear fearing the future. "It would change my life completely. At 61-years-old, I'd have to go out and look for another job," he said.
But ultimately, it's a decision that may, once again, come down to the voters.
"I would think that the decision would be different this time," said Armstead.
The Republican party first needs to get about 6,500 signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.
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