Casino gambling is increasingly seen by some as a way to revive this island city, which is reeling from Hurricane Ike and 3,000 layoffs by its largest employer.
The Strand Merchants Association believes gambling would bring in tourists with more money who would patronize the downtown historical area shops, many still struggling to reopen after being inundated with as much as 10 feet of storm water Sept. 13.
The increased tourism could help replace the patrons who won't be coming back because they were laid off by the University of Texas Medical Branch last month, casino gambling supporters say.
They point to Biloxi, Miss., where casino gambling contributed $22.5 million to city coffers in fiscal year 2008.
Opponents fear casinos would resurrect an era when Galveston was infamous for its gambling, bordellos and corrupt public officials.
Casino gambling was endorsed by a majority in an informal poll taken by the Galveston County Daily News, whose publisher, Dolph Tillotson, is a vocal advocate of taking a hard look at gambling as a possible economic boon.
A Daily News online poll found that 81.7 percent of respondents believed casino gambling should be part of the island's economic recovery plan.