Rockaway Beach Mayor vows to bring casinos

Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT
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In 2004 Missouri voters rejected an amendment that would have allowed a casino to be built in the town of Rockaway Beach. Now, more than 12 years later the town's new mayor hopes to rejuvenate support for a gambling establishment.

"All of our businesses are gone; there's very few and the few that are here are struggling," says Mayor Don Smith.

On any given week day Main Street in Rockaway Beach looks pretty quiet.

"We are so impoverished here; this town is dying," says Smith.

Smith says he wants to restore Rockaway Beach to it's glory days of the 1950's, and he thinks he knows exactly what the town needs to do it.

"I started researching casinos," says Smith. "I wanted the people to all come together and support me or tell me that they didn't want this but it was overwhelming the support was overwhelming."

"I feel that casinos in Rockaway Beach area would be a good idea because it would bring jobs to the area," says Rachel Powell who lives in Rocakway Beach.

Smith hopes the town can accomplish what it failed to do in 2004 and get Missouri voters to approve a casino on Lake Taneycomo in Rockaway Beach.

"We have a model to go off of and we have contacts and we have a lot of political pull," says Smith.

But he know's he has a long fight ahead of him.

"I've heard through the grapevine that some people are against it because they feel like it may take away from some Branson," says Powell.

"You can't say that you don't want a casino because it would destroy the mom and pop shops; they're struggling anyway. that would bring crowds of people that would support business," says Smith.

Smith already has the support of many of his constituents.

"I'm sure that some of the buildings that are empty now would be refurbished and brought back up so it could be brought back to what Rockaway used to be," says business owner Carl High.

And vows that this time; the results will be different.

"We are not going to lose this time, I'm not going to quit, I'm determined that this is going to pass," says Smith.

Mayor Smith says he's currently putting together a committee to try to get the issue on the ballot a year from November.