Friday, June 09, 2006


Casino Madness

There is now a real possibility for casino gambling in Ft. Smith and the rest of Arkansas. Many of my friends on both sides of the political aisle are opposed to such a development. In the case of Ft. Smith, it is a case of "cutting their nose off to spite their face."

In Oklahoma, two large Indian casinos are literally within five minutes of downtown Ft. Smith. Drive through the parking lot of either casino at any time of day or night and look at the license plates; Arkansas plates are everywhere. It is my understanding (as yet to be verified) that both casinos have a shuttle to and from Fort Smith.

If the casino plan is successful, the tax dollars Arkansas could garner would not be going to Oklahoma, but to Arkansas projects such as roads, education, recreation parks, and hiring more officers to name a few items. The recent failed tax increase to build a new city municipal building and sports complex could be remedied by the increased taxes from the activities of tourists coming to Fort Smith to gamble and see the sights.

The jobs created by a casino in Ft. Smith would be good paying and are estimated to be near 700 or more. Other jobs would be created in the service of the casino (i.e.. food, repair, landscaping, etc.). All of these jobs create a larger tax base that would limit the need for tax increases to repair roads or fix the state's school problems. While these jobs would not appear until the casino is completed, the construction jobs would be immediate.

I would not be in support of a casino in Ft. Smith if there were not already the two casinos in such close proximity. Not supporting it in light of this is economic suicide. Ft. Smith will be in dire need of these funds in the coming years. Where else do the people of Ft. Smith expect to find this money? Taxes? The citizens just voted down two tax increases. This is a way to grow the tax base.

The argument that a casino will be detrimental to the poor does not wash with casinos already so close and transportation readily available. The argument that gambling addictions will rise can be put aside by requiring any casino built must provide access to assistance for gambling addiction. Both of these arguments were used in Mississippi and Louisiana and were proven to be false predictions. There is no reason to believe that Ft. Smith would be any different.

Simply put, the overwhelming majority of reasons against having a casino in Fort Smith are offset by the proximity of the casinos in Oklahoma. Crime, poverty, and immorality are already here to the extent that any other casino would bring in. Life may be worth living in Fort Smith, but now it can be affordable, too.

I agree with this article 100%, having moved here from Arizona, where the lottery has been in use for several years. They have no tax on their groceries, and the schools have retired persons and motorcycle officers that are paid to sit in school zones thirty minutes before school takes up and they sit there for thirty minutes after the bell rings, and they do the same thing when school lets out. There have been 0,ZERO, children hit by a car (in the entire state) in a school zone since the lottery was voted in.
You talk about how people around here don't want any more taxes, the main reason is that we are taxed until we are below poverty level... and you want to put more on us. The other day I went to get groceries, when the total came up, she took off the tax, (I am on food stamps) and $18.00 disappeared!!! If I had been paying cash, my bill would have been out of my reach, it would have been $18.00 MORE. Bring on the lottery and casinos, PLEASE, I don't gamble but I would love to reap the rewards from others gambling.
Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.
You are more than welcome. I am surprised I have not heard more about this side of the story. The reason I wrote this article is because someone had to. Someone needed to take a level-headed and non-emotional approach.
Just an after thought that should have been in the forefront.

We legislate against gabling because we are worried about people that cannot stop gambling and will loose everything. What then do we do about drinking alcohol? Eating unhealthy foods? A vibrant sexual appetite? Are we to then legislate every corner of our lives to the point we have no freedom? I was taught that we should do things in moderation. Eat, but don't be a glutton. Drinking is ok if you only drink a little and don't get drunk. Sex is ok in a monogomous relationship. Gambling is not evil if you don't gamble beyond your meens. We need to lead by example and not by legislation.
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