Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The casino proposal: gambling with our quality of life

I've never really talked about it in Grand Forks Life, but I think I better mention it since discussion of it seems to be everywhere these days. So here goes: as the proposal stands now, I am against having a casino in Grand Forks. At the same time, I cringe at the tactics of many of the casino foes.

Grand Forks should be a destination city. However, attractions that seek to fulfill the "destination" status shouldn't detract from the existing culture and quality of life in Grand Forks that the community has been building for the last century. A casino does bring at least a small increase in crime and addiction...almost all reports and studies show that. Other attractions that have been added in the last few years (Alerus Center, The Ralph, Kingswalk, Grand Forks Marketplace, Greenway, Canad Inns) have not brought similar negative aspects. I guess people can become addicted to golfing...but isn't being addicted to gambling a whole lot worse and doesn't it take a much heavier toll on the community? Or how about crime? Where is the crime that the Grand Forks Marketplace or the Alerus Center have brought to town? They haven't brought any. The existing attractions only better the community...they don't detract from it.

At the same time, shame on local casino foes for mixing their opposition up with conservative Christian politics. A liberal, non-religious person can be just as against the casino as a local Baptist minister. The casino foes should leave their religion at home when they seek to thwart the proposal. There are plenty of arguments to be made against the casino that don't involve the Bible or the Ten Commandments.

Face it...although a casino might bring a few more people to the city and a few more jobs (likely minimum wage or slightly better), the baggage that it brings along with it would far outweigh any positives.

I love seeing Grand Forks get new businesses or attractions. That's why it is so unusual that I'm against having a casino in town. The fact of the matter is that a casino might sound like an enticing opportunity, but in the long run, I feel that it would simply lower the hard-earned quality of life in Grand Forks and would actually discourage new residents and businesses. A casino is not the kind of business that the city of Grand Forks should seek or welcome. Gambling is risky and the city shouldn't gamble on our quality of life.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nobody wants to live in the gambling Capitol of the USA, Vegas, because of all that crime and negativity associated with gambling....oh wait. It's the fastest growing city in the country. Have you been to Mississippi lately, after they "legalized" gambling? Their are numerous articles that claim how those places are now epicenters for economic development. If they could go back to no gambling in their city now that they know. There is no doubt they'd have it the same way.

Michael W said...

Your comments on the casino issue are interesting but flawed.

You say, "A casino does bring at least a small increase in crime and addiction...almost all reports and studies show that. Other attractions that have been added in the last few years (Alerus Center, The Ralph, Kingswalk, Grand Forks Marketplace, Greenway, Canad Inns) have not brought similar negative aspects. I guess people can become addicted to golfing...but isn't being addicted to gambling a whole lot worse and doesn't it take a much heavier toll on the community?"

Aren't addicts everywhere? Using your thesis, the city of Grand Forks should never allow another bar in town or for that matter, should begin prohibiting alcohol. If you are an addict (and I speak of some experience as a recovering alcoholic), you are going to feed your addiction any way possible. Say I like to gamble and I live in Grand Forks... GF doesn't have video gaming but it has a buttload of blackjack tables around town. Enough to where, if I had it bad, I could hop from joint to joint (bars by the way) cashing checks (probably bad) and gambling. Bring in a giant tourist style casino and I, the addict, probably won't care too much, unless it's a 24/7 house, then I might show up once or twice or 50 times. The notion that this casino will create addicts is false... the addicts are already there.

Now, will the casino be a gaudy eye sore and just not fit? Maybe that is the question to ask. The problem with wanting to be a destination city is that you have to sometimes include things that maybe the citizens of the town probably don't want... strip clubs come to mind. I'm not saying that there should be strip clubs in GF, but.....

I don't thing a casino would be a horrible thing. Maybe if it was connected to the Nad. Will that be the name? Like the Al and the Ralph? The Nad is kind of funny, I like it (I'm such a kid). If your not followin', the Nad is the Canad Inn. Anyway, my point, the casino next to the Nad would be great because all those businessmen and women coming in would have some place to and blow their hard earned money. Any American's right.

Well, that was a bit of a tangent but my point was made early on. Addicts will get their fill whether or not a supersized casino sets up shop in GF.

JGS said...

I'm sorry, but im still all for the casino. People are acting like this will be the deciding factor of Grand Forks future. Crime rates going high? Highly doubt that will happen. Grand Forks ranks the top for lowest crime rates and safest communities in the United States. People are assuming our crime rates will sky rocket once it's built. I bet they will not. We have a great police force in GF and EGF. I think they will know what to do "if" our crime goes up from it (which I doubt).

What does it matter if it brings in minimum paying jobs? They're jobs are they not? It will bring in more people to the city, although 90% of them will be at the age 20 and below. But what does that matter, we shouldn't always expect high paying jobs from huge projects looking to be apart of Grand Forks.

Grand Forks residents need to start taking risks! It's best to take risks to learn from it later in the future I guess in my own view.

Last thing, let's take a look at TRF and their casino just south of town. Now, have they been and worse since that was built? Has their crime rates risen? I highly doubt that to. Unless someone can show me something that says this is false.

And once again, this thing is still waaaaay in the early stages. They still need to get approval from the government and federal etc. It's not like this thing will be decided next year. A few more years to come is my guess is when they will decide, still lots of talking to be done.

GrandForksGuy said...

Michael W says, Aren't addicts everywhere? Using your thesis, the city of Grand Forks should never allow another bar in town or for that matter, should begin prohibiting alcohol. If you are an addict (and I speak of some experience as a recovering alcoholic), you are going to feed your addiction any way possible. Say I like to gamble and I live in Grand Forks... GF doesn't have video gaming but it has a buttload of blackjack tables around town. Enough to where, if I had it bad, I could hop from joint to joint (bars by the way) cashing checks (probably bad) and gambling. Bring in a giant tourist style casino and I, the addict, probably won't care too much, unless it's a 24/7 house, then I might show up once or twice or 50 times. The notion that this casino will create addicts is false... the addicts are already there..

I think it is wrong to say that my thesis would also call for banning bars. There will always be people who want to go out and drink and thus there will always be bars scattered throughout town where they can do so. Likewise, there are people who love to gamble and there is, and will continue to be, places in town where they can do some charitable gaming. I would never call for the end of small charitable gaming operations.

So, there will always be gambling addicts in Grand Forks (regardless of the presence of a casino) and there will always be alcoholics as well. However, if someone was to come in and build a gigantic bar (unrealistic, but let's say the size of a tribal casino) it would be hard to imagine that we wouldn't see a rise in alcoholism rates. Likewise, it's hard to imagine that a giant casino wouldn't mean new people becoming addicted to gambling. So, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a normal-sized bar open in town, but I would be opposed to seeing a giant bar open because it would almost certainly cause more alcohol addiction. Likewise, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a new small-scale charitable gaming operation open up, but I am opposed to seeing a giant casino come into town because it almost certainly would bring more gambling addiction and create new addicts...and crime and poverty are just some of the side effects of gambling addiction.

By the way, I'm not just opposed to the casino proposal because of these potential social side effects. I also think that the casino wouldn't do much for the local economy. People spending money in the casino means people not having as much money to spend at concerts or in stores or restaurants. Unless the city could set up a very lucrative contract with the tribe, the casino wouldn't do much for the city's coffers. Sure, it would be great the reservation, but is it Grand Forks' responsibility to potentially hurt itself socially and financially to better a reservation so far away? I don't think that it is.

Also, a tribal casino isn't exactly the classiest type of establishment. Do we really need a casino so that we can bring in Williams and Ree every season? To put it plainly, casinos are simply tacky and Grand Forks shouldn't be a tacky place.

Anonymous said...

Many people are addicted to shopping, yet the city goes to all lengths to bring in every possible merchandize outlet. Many people are addicted to overeating, yet every tacky chain restaurant, serving transfat laden glop is welcome. If there is a petittion against anything it should be any business that does not offer health insurance to its employees.

Brooks said...

I'll admit, when i hear about casinos, i think of dumpy reservations. BUT, I still think GF would benefit from it. The more attractractions we have, the more people will want to visit here and the longer they will stay. Also, I really dont see the difference between the Alerus Center and a casino. We're paying around $70 for Aerosmith tickets, and thats just for one night. By spending $70 at a casino, at least you have a chance (very small chance) of winning. I liked what anonymous said about Vegas. It is the fastest growing city in the country. So apparently casinos arent demonic like we hear about and read in the paper every day. Many of my friends at UND go to Thief River Falls to gamble quite often. So, the people that would be going to this casino probably already gamble, there just giving the money to a different city.

As a closing point,How can you put the blame for gambling addictions on the casino? Isnt it really the gamblers fault?

drunk said...

Actually, I'm surprised that the Indians haven't built up huge casino resorts on tribal land. That's what they're doing here in California. Indian casinos sprouting up everywhere. One of the local ones tried to claim that a small woodland peninsula was tribal land. They planned to cut down the entire forest to build a casino resort. The Chevron-Texaco oil refinery next door stepped up and said "No, we like the land" and bought the land up. here is an article about Gambling & Crime in California. Turns out that the biggest jump in crime happens with Asian casinos. The Indians have been successful at keeping organized crime out, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

Another casino will be built somewhere in the area, so its negative effects (if there are any) will be felt regardless. The questions is, do we want it to be built in GF.

"Just having" an arena doesn't matter if it can't attract the best acts. And "just having" a GF Marketplace isn't an attraction when huge outlet malls thrive in central Minnesota. A casino would def. be an attraction, for better or for worse; and one that appeals to convention-goers.

Anonymous said...

It would hlep the Alerus. The canucks could go to an Aerosmith concert AND gamble while staying at their friendly confines of a Canad Inn.

GrandForksGuy said...

There is no proposal to have a casino at the Canad Inns. The casino would be built three miles south of 32nd Avenue in what is now empty farmland (owned by Guy Useldinger) next to I-29. That land would technically have to be turned over to the tribe. I don't see how a casino could be built adjacent to the Canad Inns when the land would have to be turned over to the tribe.

Anonymous said...

The point they were trying to make is that an attraction like a casino would indirectly (or even directly) improve business at the Alerus center. It doesn't need to be located on site. Just because the casino site is at 47th and I29 doesn't mean it won't benefit the Alerus a bit and it doesn't mean they are wrong in principle.

GFG, in your original post, you seem to be stating that you are against the casino because it will lead to more local addicts, and you refer to nebulous "evidence" yet cite nothing specific.

You are begging the question with this arguement. You are using the assumption that your basic premise is true in order to prove your arguement.
Also, just because a retail development doesn't cause crime says nothing about whether or not a casino will increase crime in the area.

Everyone with cable television knows that there are currently absolutely no barriers in GF to gambling. The access is already there.

We also have a local Indian gaming expert Steven Light saying that there is really no definitive proof out there that connects tribal casinos with ill social effects. How do you couunter his arguements?

Anonymous said...

I had Steven Light at UND as a professor. Smart guy, Yale Graduated.

Here's his book on the subject.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0700614060/104-7303955-5609508?v=glance&n=283155

Anonymous said...

GFG, ya better be careful or you will be branded a racist for opposing the casino.

It nothing more than suppresion of Native American rights to not be "for the casino."

See VOD's BLOG:
http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18398731&postID=114132446932711978&isPopup=true

UND Student said...

Interesting comments here. Where do I stand? Well, among my family and friends there isn't a casino-goer among us. However, I do know that a lot of people frequent these places. I first want to make a few general statements:

-people in grand forks already go to casinos, this would just cut their commute time, and possible make them inclined to frequent them just a little more often
-I think casinos are tacky
-I associate casinos with beyond-suburbia, or suburbs

Anyhow, if it is 3 miles south of 32nd, I don't care if it gets built or not... I don't like tacky buildings, and casinos are incredible tacky (can you tell I have no plans to ever see Vegas--and yes, I know that's only ONE part of Vegas, but you get the idea). Anyhow, as far as I'm concerned if it isn't connected or nearly-connected to the city, then build away. To my knowledge, three miles south is farmland.

Also, the big hubub in the Seattle area is the new casino plans. We have plenty of casinos that attract plenty of customers, but one is being built on the EAST SIDE (more wealthy suburban area, p.s. Bill Gates lives on E. Side)

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/eastsidenews/2002840793_casino03e.html

So, it's a similar thing on a larger scale. $90 million project...

Anyhow, I generally don't like casinos, don't like the smokiness, tackiness, but hey, if other people want to spend their money... be my guest! 3 miles south is far enough away for me to be indifferent. I don't have a car and walk everywhere, and I can tell you that 3 miles is about the entire N/S length of town (gateway to 32nd). I was looking on http://maps.google.com and I noticed the Grand Forks country club is also south of town... wouldn't it be amusing if the casino was built next to it? I generally think that casinos and country clubs have two seperate markets...

anyhow, those are my thoughts.