Thursday, June 02, 2005

Urban Casino's Do Not Bring the Economic Prosperity Promised

This excerpt is from an article in the Chronicle by David Lazarus showing just how much San Pablo would benefit from a casino... not at all.
The Lytton Band's tribal chairwoman, Marjie Mejia, reiterated in testimony before state lawmakers in January that the casino will create jobs and bring prosperity to the area.

"As people who understand what it is to be poor, we are committed to providing our fair share to the people of the East Bay and California," she said.

But Bill Thompson, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sees things differently.

He's done extensive work on the economic impact of urban casinos, including a recent analysis of the proposed 2,500-slot-machine San Pablo complex. His study was commissioned by opponents of the project.

"For a casino to boost the local economy, it has to bring in money from other places, and that money needs to be spent outside the casino," Thompson told me.

"I don't see a deluge of outside dollars into the Bay Area by putting a casino in San Pablo. I see money being taken from other parts of the town. I see stores and restaurants closing.

"I don't see Las Vegas," Thompson said. "I see Atlantic City."

I know what he's talking about. I visited Atlantic City recently and saw for myself how the glittering mega-casinos looming over the boardwalk stand apart from the rest of the town.

Inside the casinos, I saw thousands of seniors and working-class people pumping coins into slots and gambling away money at green-felt card tables.

I saw restaurants, shops and entertainment with prices that were low enough to discourage visitors from ever going elsewhere.

Outside the casinos, I saw boarded-up storefronts and neighborhoods that had clearly seen better days, with none of the vitality of, say, Las Vegas' commercial and residential areas.

Read the rest of the Chronicle article by clicking here.