Thursday, local religious and business leaders held a meeting to discuss their feelings about electronic bingo coming to Houston County. A charity bingo facility is planned to be built within the Country Crossing entertainment project.
After speaking to Developer Ronnie Gilley over the phone on Friday, he made it clear that the project will not be crossing into this county unless charity bingo does.
Gilley has spent a lot of time putting together the plans for the future country music venue, Country Crossing.
The plans include a charity bingo facility and if the bingo goes, so does the entire project.
Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver said, "It’s a project that was presented to us. It’s not our job to tell them what to enter in the project. It made us need to look into the legalities."
Bingo is expected to raise millions of dollars for charities and help Country Crossing grow.
Because of the controversy, the project could slip out of the county commission's hands.
"I think we all did a lot of soul searching on this,” Culver said. “We all feel very positive on the decision that we made. We feel it’s an exciting project that will put us on the national tourism map."
Some feel losing the entire project would be a big loss to the community.
"I absolutely would be disappointed with the time that’s put in, 3000 families that could have had better jobs, hundreds of dollars in investment, lots of charity money. So [yes], I would be disappointed to lose out on that," Culver added.
Opponents of charity bingo fear that the amount of money may not be significant, and crime may come along with gambling.
"We’re going to continue to grow in Houston County, and when you grow, you have to deal with certain things,” Culver continued. “A crime in one of them; the traffic that is going on right now is one of them. Certainly as issues come up, we're going to do everything in our power to get them. We’re going to plan for them in advance and make this a successful project."
Even though Commissioner Curtis Harvey said he would like to revisit the decision, nothing will change unless the majority of the commission decides.
Culver has asked the developers to go back to investors and see if they could address the concerns that some citizens have.
As of now, there is nothing on next Monday’s agenda pertaining to the project.