PEPER COLUMN: Should we roll dice on casino?
Ready to say "hit me" in Hardeeville? Word is a casino/hotel project is in the works that might bring as many as 2,200 jobs. It would be located off I-95 just above the Georgia/South Carolina state line. Remember the poker parlors that once served as welcome centers a few years ago? At least it gave people a semi-justified reason to stop at South of the Border.
A buck in North Chuck
Will this Cherokee Indian project near I-95 do anything to ramp up efforts in North Charleston with their casino boats? It's been over a year since that idea was first floated, but the project seems to have run aground. One drawback was getting a bigger boat that could get to international waters quicker. The sooner the boat gets there, the sooner the betting begins.
Think the possibility of the Hardeeville casino has the boat people doubling-down on their plans? Or is the idea just dead in the water? Two different companies are still trying to amass their resources.
My only experience with gambling on a boat came on a cruise ship many years ago. I seemed to win money when the boat was going away from port, but lost it even more rapidly when we turned around and headed back to shore. No hard facts to offer on this -- it just seemed that way.
People at the Little River Inlet tell me it takes about an hour for the boats to get to the gambling zone. They wager for about 3 hours, then it's another hour back to the dock.
I watched people unload there a few months ago, and it was pretty easy to spot the winners and losers. Not too many poker faces that day.
Are we all in?
Will it happen in Hardeeville? Some business people and the governor have already voiced opposition, saying there are better ways to create jobs.
The closest Indian gaming location is in Cherokee, N.C. After 20 years, that business still plays to mixed reviews.
In Harrah's Cherokee, there are touch screens in a tobacco-free room that offer opportunities to play digital blackjack and poker. There are machines that take everything from a nickel to $25 in coins, with the hope of winning hundreds.
There also are other machines in the lobby. They're called ATMs.
There are attractive "stay and play" packages at the hotel. Management likes it if you play -- they love it if you stay.
Looks like a casino is coming to the Lowcountry, one way or the other. There's a chance we'll have casinos both places -- one by land and two by sea.
If casinos do set up shop, does it immediately take money from the state's lottery? If so, are scholarships dramatically reduced, and do other lottery-funded projects suffer?
Or is there room at that gaming table for everybody? It might be too late to argue that we don't believe in gambling. That train left the station long ago.
Let's see what happens. Sometimes, there's some fun to be had before the headaches arrive. There also are jobs and additional revenue that could surely help cash-strapped communities.
Let's just make sure we take a look at all the possibilities. In other words, calculate the odds.
I'm just sayin' …