Voters to Decide Expanded Gaming Issue - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Voters to Decide Expanded Gaming Issue

Plans to expand gaming in West Memphis could bring hundreds of jobs but local church leaders worry the trouble gambling brings will not be worth it. Rev. Stephen Chitman says he learned firsthand the evils of gambling as a young man stationed in the Philippines "I saw how easy it was to put money in one pocket and safe money in another pocket," says Rev. Chitman, "and how before I left the establishment I was in my safe pocket and all my money was gone." Rev. Chitman envisions gamblers in need of cash breaking into homes and risking food money. He is against a proposal that would expand gaming at Southland Greyhound Park.

The proposal is to add "games of skill" at the park. Specifically 800 to 1,000 electronic games like solitaire and blackjack, plus a new restaurant. Proponents say the plan does not include slot machines. "We can't give our city employees a raise," says City Councilman Marco McClendon, "we need fire trucks and equipment for our city employees." McClendon favors the expanded gaming proposal. "We need more personnel. Our city need better appearances."

City leaders supporting the expansion say it will bring nearly $720,000 dollars a year to West Memphis and the promise of 200 new jobs. Early voting begins Monday, October 24. Regular voting is November 8.

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