Washington — Before Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast was well on its way to becoming a popular gambling destination. Now, for the gaming industry, a second storm - this one political - is brewing.
Katrina damaged and destroyed many of the casinos that had become an increasingly important sector of the region's economy. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are split over whether taxpayers should help rebuild gambling establishments, along with some other businesses objectionable to social conservatives.
The House on Wednesday approved legislation to provide an array of tax breaks aimed at spurring the Gulf Coast's economic recovery - but would exclude casinos from these benefits. Massage parlors, liquor stores, hot tub facilities, country clubs, racetracks and suntan facilities also would be ineligible for the tax incentives.
The provision sets up a showdown with the Senate, which did not include similar restrictions in its post-Katrina tax relief package.