Local: Vote No to Pinnacle.

This is for locals of Baton Rouge: Please vote on February 9, 2008 NO to third casino.

Our Views: Third casino isn't needed
Advocate Opinion page staff
Published: Oct 25, 2007 - Page: 6B

We hope East Baton Rouge Parish voters will refuse Feb. 9 to approve a third casino in our community.

The last thing our city and parish need is yet another expansion of gambling, either temporarily or permanently.

We should focus instead on efforts to attract true opportunities for real economic growth, such as development of stable, lasting, technology-based businesses.

Gambling is not economic development. It produces no useful, substantial products or services for the benefit of society, nor does it create meaningful, well-paying jobs that can be the foundation of a sound future for this community and its people.

Gambling is simply the legally sanctioned, institutionalized, wholesale transfer of income from players, who inevitably lose, consistently filling the coffers of the house, which inevitably wins.

In September alone, players lost $210.7 million at state-licensed casinos in Louisiana.

The state casino industry’s take for a single month is not much less than the $250 million Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. proposes to spend on a 565-acre gambling complex with a 70,000-square-foot casino near River Road and Gardere Lane. The Pinnacle operation would be bigger than Baton Rouge’s two existing casinos combined.

Anyone who wants to gamble in Baton Rouge or elsewhere in Louisiana has ample opportunity to part with hard-earned money.

Louisiana has more than enough casinos on land and at dockside (Can we please drop the ludicrous fiction of calling them “riverboats”?), video-poker operations, horse-race tracks, off-track betting parlors and state lottery locations.

Yet even all that is insufficient for the insatiable gambling industry.

We expect Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. to mount a major effort to generate support between now and Feb. 9, the date of the casino referendum and Louisiana’s presidential primary election.

Earlier primaries in other states might effectively determine the national party nominees before then, rendering the Louisiana primary moot and resulting in a low turnout.

If voters give the OK in February, Pinnacle could effect a substantial expansion of gambling in our community, at least temporarily and perhaps for the long term.

Some observers say the expansion could be short-lived because a third casino might drive one of its two downtown predecessors out of business, thus shifting operations, jobs and customers from one casino to another.

Conversely, Pinnacle says the gambling market is underserved in our area and the existing Baton Rouge casinos can survive new competition.

If Pinnacle’s project knocks off an existing casino, that could mean little or no gain for the city and parish. If all three survive, the Pinnacle casino will represent a major expansion of gambling.

Either way, our community would lose, or at least not gain much.

The Advocate consistently has opposed expansion of gambling in Baton Rouge and statewide. We still do.

At best, gambling is an unstable source of revenue for state and local governments. At worst, it is a reliable source of human misery.

In the closing years of the 20th century, Louisiana wasted considerable time, energy and treasure in endless arguments and political battles involving gambling.

Now, in the early stages of the 21st century, Baton Rouge has the possibility of a great future if we exercise greater collective wisdom than in the past.

We don’t want to see yet another debate about gambling — this time on the local level — consume energy and resources that would be better put to other uses.

We hope the February vote will show that we’ve learned from our mistakes.

Link to above article: HERE

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