2014-10-16 / Opinion

Who Would Really Lose?

To the Editor:

Question 1 on the November 4 ballot proposes to expand gambling in Newport. It is not about saving or creating jobs, as the wealthy investors would have you think. Those jobs will remain either way.

Study after study has shown that when a casino opens, the community actually loses jobs. Forty percent of the restaurants and 33 percent of the retail shops in Atlantic City closed within three years of the casinos opening. Small businesses can’t compete with the free drinks, food, and services offered at the casinos. When the other businesses close, not only do their employees lose their jobs but advertisers, construction workers, and vendors that do work for the businesses also decline. It’s a domino effect.

Your neighbors and friends who oppose casino expansion are not snobs and wealthy millionaires as the advertisements would have you believe. We are your family, friends, neighbors and longterm residents. We are fighting for our own jobs and those of our children. We’ve read and researched what has happened to other communities with large casinos and we don’t want it to happen to us.

There is a big difference between the proposed expansion and the slots parlor we have now. Casino patrons do not visit or spend money in other establishments in town. Casinos are carefully designed to keep people inside and gambling. Studies have shown that 70 percent of casino customers are from a 10- mile radius. They are our elderly and youth. Property values in the community surrounding a full casino drop by approximately 10 percent. A house valued at $300,000 declines by $30,000. You lose without ever walking in the door.

We’ve spent the last 40 years raising our families and building Newport into a world-class community. We have a thriving tourist and maritime economy. We have a top-notch university, community college, hospital, and technology industry. The Navy presence is stronger than ever. These are not all elite or high paying jobs, but they work together to support our families and each other. We do not need to expand an industry where so many lose for a few to win. The only winners are the investors who, admittedly, do not gamble, except with our future.

Please vote no on Question 1. Don’t be tricked into thinking this is a vote about jobs. If there were any positive aspects to casinos, the investors would be advertising those facts. Have we forgotten the 38 Studios promises? The investors can say anything they want with no validation, no proof, and more importantly, no consequences. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our families and friends will be the ones that lose if gambling is allowed to expand.

Gail Holmes

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