Leaders talk about what it would take to bring casinos to the Grand Strand

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – For many years now, there has been talk of someday bringing casinos to the Grand Strand.

Now, that idea is coming back up in conversation among local leaders.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said that while there have been talks about casinos lately, a number of things would need to be worked out in order to turn the idea into a reality.

“You know, the biggest thing is, if you can do it through the treaties of the past – become something with the Indian reservation – that’s one way to do it,” Lazarus said. “It has its limitations by doing it that way. The other is, you’d actually have to change the state’s constitution to allow gambling in the state of South Carolina.”

While that wouldn’t necessarily be the easiest process to go through, Lazarus didn’t hesitate to explain the benefits of bringing casinos to the Grand Strand.

“You know the more people you can bring here, the more seats it fills in restaurants, the more hotels and condos it fills,” he said. “It would be a great economy. I think it would help the golf business for us tremendously too.”

That being said, Lazarus doesn’t believe it should be a free-for-all.

“(It should be) heavily regulated, I think it should be heavily taxed,” he said. “I don’t think we should let it open up like the video poker parlors of the past that were just everywhere. I think there could be one or two of them off of 31 or 22.”

In other words, Lazarus wouldn’t want to see a casino pop up in the center of Myrtle Beach or North Myrtle Beach, and he’s talking just a casino.

He added this would be much different than the Big M casino boats, which have to travel more than three miles into the ocean on sometimes not-so-nice waters before the games can begin.

Even though this is just an idea right now, Lazarus isn’t taking it out of the realm of possibility.

“Yeah you know, it starts from an idea and thoughts and conversation around the table, and sometimes it gets to become a bigger thing,” he said.

If the idea ever become something bigger, Lazarus believes it could help not only the local area, but the entire state by funding things like public schools, road repairs and infrastructure.

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