2014-10-23 / Opinion

Casino Would Harm Local Businesses

To the Editor:

Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” It seems that the lie that casino gambling will be great for Newport is trying to reach escape velocity, so let’s stop the lie in its track with some cold hard facts.

Newport’s businesses will suffer as a result of a casino. How do I know this for sure? Because it has already happened in other states. Iowa State University researchers surveyed business owners in Clinton, Iowa, to determine how they had been affected by the presence of a riverboat casino; 29 percent reported a decrease.

In a survey of 900 Minnesota restaurant owners, 38 percent said they had lost business due to gambling. The number of independent restaurants in Atlantic City dropped from 48 the year casinos opened to 16. Within just four years of the casinos arrival in Atlantic City, onethird of the city’s retail businesses had closed. The number of retail businesses in Gilpin County, Colo., dropped from 31 before gambling to 11 within a couple of years after casinos arrived. More than 70 percent of businesses in Natchez, Miss., reported declining sales within a few months of the opening of that city’s first casino. More than half of business owners in Illinois casino towns reported a negative effect on their businesses from the presence of casinos. A University of South Dakota study showed that retail and service businesses in South Dakota suffered a net loss of approximately $60 million in anticipated sales in the year following the introduction of gambling.

In Newport, the citizens have voted against casino gambling five times now and five times our voices have not been heard by the State Senate leadership. No means no, enough is enough already. We need jobs. Good high paying jobs! There is a vision for the North End of Newport that will only be enacted if a casino is not built. It is called the Newport Innovation Hub. The vision for the Newport Innovation Hub is to create a scientific and technological center that focuses on oceanographic research, defense/cyber applications, environmental technology, alternative energy, emerging digital industries and community resilience. It is estimated that if this plan were to be implemented it could create over 1,200 jobs that have salaries of $100,000 a year; most jobs would require only a two-year degree. The possibilities are endless. These jobs are real and they are high paying. Our current State Senator from Newport has been in power since 1992. That’s 22 years. It took nine years for the United States to put a man on the moon. Why is it taking our State 22 years to build an Innovation Hub in Newport? If you can’t figure the answer out either and are sick and tired of 3 a.m. backroom deals up at the State House regarding casino gambling then vote Mike Smith this Nov. 4 and vote to REJECT Question 1.

Anthony G. Spiratos

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