As a past council member and Deputy Mayor I have heard the arguments for and against gambling from the public, gambling industry, and other council members. I never really thought about categorizing them until after I attended a Planning Advisory Board (PAB) public hearing on gambling held 6 February 2008.
What? You didn’t know about that public hearing? Neither did I until just before the hearing. Apparently very few other Lakewood citizens heard about the hearing either. However the gambling industry must have gotten an engraved invitation and brought their minions, mostly non-Lakewood residents, to present their case to the PAB. Talk about a
I recall a similar situation before I was elected to council and served as a member of the very same PAB. The issue then was what to do with Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOB). The City proposed to dump them into the international district with scant notification to that community. Only a front page article in that morning’s TNT alerted the public of the public hearing that afternoon and few were able to attend.
I protested and demanded that the public hearing be delayed and that extensive notification be given to the community, not just the perfunctory notice in a back page of the TNT or hung on a wall in the library. The result: when the hearing was next held 2 weeks later over 400 concerned citizens showed up. Too bad Lakewood citizens didn’t get the same opportunity to speak on gambling.
As I sat last February before the PAB and listened to shills for the gambling industry extol the many virtues of gambling in Lakewood, it became apparent that they were all working off the same sheet of music. It wouldn’t surprise me that the gambling industry has talking points and conducts rehearsals for such stage shows. Unfortunately the PAB, and later the council itself, swallowed their deceptive presentation hook, line and sinker and began parroting these very same “myths” about why gambling should remain in Lakewood.
I have labeled the gambling industry’s talking points the 12 Gambling Myths. I think I heard most of them at least once during the PAB public hearing. Here they are.
- The City of Lakewood needs this revenue or it will have to cut 25 police officers or raise taxes
- Gambling is good for Lakewood’s economy
- Gambling provides jobs in Lakewood
- Gambling doesn’t contribute to crime
- Gambling contributes to the community
- Gambling is a personal choice
- Gambling is just entertainment
- Gambling is no different that tobacco, alcohol, fast food
- Life is a gamble
- If we ban gambling in Lakewood then people will just go to the Indian casinos
- Government has no business controlling gambling
- City government doesn’t have the tools it needs: we need Legislative action
Notice how appealing these myths sound, but be warned: what you don’t know about these myths can destroy this City‚Äòs future.
In future emails I’ll show you the gambling industry hidden “hole cards” so you can really see what kind of hand the casinos have dealt the citizens of Lakewood. Just as in a poker game, the gambling industry has raised the bet based upon these myths in the hope that opposition to gambling will fold their hand. If that happens the casinos will win the “hand” with a bluff and take the “pot” which represents Lakewood’s future.
If you’d like to learn more about the impact gambling has on Lakewood and become part of the solution, I’d invite you to go to www.SaveLakewood.com. Find out how you can help bring the current initiative to ban casino gambling to a vote of the people. Time is short for signature gathering (4 July 2008) and we must have enough signatures (about 5,000) to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
Your help is vital! You can make a difference! Direct government via the initiative process when government fails to act: a clear winner for Lakewood voters! Please forward this e-mail to people on your personal mail list and urge them to act. Petitions for your signatures can be downloaded from www.SaveLakewood.com.
One more thing. If you believe that the people of Lakewood should not have to support the gambling industry in our community, send your council members an e-mail at email@example.com.
Past Council member and Deputy Mayor
Editor’s Note: I applaud Mr. Arbeeny for his efforts make his view known. Agree or disagree, if you have something to say on the topic, send it my way. You can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Furthermore, be sure to participate in our online poll on this topic. Go to www.thesubtimes.com to register your opinion.
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