Why we're against the casino
It boils down to three things:
- Quality of life
- Problems associated with gambling
- We like our existing government, and the protections of the US Constitution
This is a small town. Most of us here like it that way. Those who'd
rather live in a city generally tend not to settle here.
It's safe to say that, so far, nobody has moved here expecting economic development to take off. We'd like to preserve our quality of life.
Casinos are very hard on communities.
Here are a few specific reasons:
All in all, this casino is simply not a good match for this area. Corn and soybean futures are all the gambling we need here.
- Gambling casinos simply do not bring economic benefits to their
communities. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. People who come
to casinos are unlikely to shop in town, and tax advantages to tribes
make it difficult for neighboring businesses to compete. Look at the towns of Sherrill, NY, or Lac du Flambeau, WI.
- The proposed casino and
the inevitable collateral development would urbanize one of the
quietest corners of the county. DeKalb County has a Unified Comprehensive Land Use Plan,
one goal of which is to keep rural areas rural.
- Casino jobs tend to be low-income service jobs.
These aren't the kinds of jobs that will bring stable families to the area.
- The proposed casino and all related development would be
completely exempt from state and local regulation.
Zoning rules and
local ordinances, intended to protect communities, would be set aside.
Federal laws relating to employee rights would not apply. As a
sovereign entity, the tribe would even be immune from legal
actions brought by their own customers.
- The proposed casino would be immediately adjacent to the 1550-acre Shabbona Lake State Park. This wonderful and popular natural area would be severely impacted by the traffic and development.
- The proposed casino would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and would be exempt from state tobacco regulation and some alcohol regulation.
- The proposed casino is likely to grow tremendously.
Furthermore, gambling brings many many problems, both to the immediate
community and to the larger region. Casinos tend to create wide areas
where many families must struggle with gambling addictions. Tribal casinos are immune from state and local ordinances addressing problem gamblers. There are lots of statistics
here. Pathological and problem gamblers make up about 4-5% of
communities, when a local casino is present. Divorce rates rise.
Bankruptcies rise. Every dollar lost to gambling costs taxpayers
another dollar. For every job created within the casino, another local
job disappears because money is sucked out of the local economy.
[Actually, as our economics page
documents, in DeKalb County's particular situation that's likely to be
two local jobs lost.] Crime goes up, not only locally but throughout
the feeder radius.
Finally, tribal sovereignty brings its own share of problems. Both
casino patrons and local residents are denied the right of redress;
tribes basically cannot be sued. Local residents subject to tribal
jurisdiction lose many of the protections of the US Constitution; the
Fourteenth Amendment extended federal constitutional protections
to state (and local) governments, but not
to tribal lands. And, of course, no existing local residents would be
eligible to vote in tribal elections. There is ample reason for local
residents to worry.