It is not surprising the Lakewood Chamber Board would support casinos in Lakewood. The Chamber‚Äôs Vice Chair of the 2007-2008 Executive Committee as listed on the Chamber‚Äôs website is Greg Bakamis, former general manager for Lakewood‚Äôs Great American Casino, more recently Regional Director for the Grand Central Casinos. And City Councilman Walter Neary also serves on the Chamber Board of Directors.
On the Chamber‚Äôs home page are listed their 5 Core Missions, the first of which is ‚ÄúPromoting the Community‚Äù. By this the Chamber presumably means that their concerns about individuals and families are first, foremost, and fundamental in promoting financial development.
In other words, simply because gambling is ‚Äúlegal, thoroughly regulated and socially acceptable, providing entertainment‚Äù, according to the Lakewood Chamber, doesn‚Äôt mean it fits the Chamber‚Äôs own criteria for ‚Äúpromoting the community‚Äù.
Casinos hurt local businesses by siphoning off restaurant, hotel and retail customers and their dollars, taking some $26 million out of Lakewood annually. They produce no products or needed services.
A public disclosure request to the State Gambling Commission to ‚Äúprovide details on all disciplinary actions or associated licensing issues with any of the Lakewood Casinos from 1996 to present‚Äù yielded 450 pages documenting sting operations on underage gamblers; serving alcohol to minors; cheating complaints; verbal and written warnings, and fines.
In 2007 alone, Lakewood Police were called to casinos 234 times, with 36 of those classified as serious. That is one call for police every other day, three serious calls per month.
The ‚ÄòPlan B‚Äô budget for 2009 ‚Äì sans $2.8 million gambling revenue ‚Äì calls for the largest cut in the police department, according to the Chamber. The Tacoma News Tribune called that budget proposal ‚Äúgross fiscal irresponsibility‚Äù (TNT, 9/11/08). In contrast, our nearest neighbor Pierce County faces a $7 million deficit and refuses to touch public safety.
Lakewood‚Äôs public safety is first to go.
Pierce County is willing to eliminate nonessential personnel in order to save police officers. Lakewood threatens to cut police and save administrative salaries.
Save Lakewood is not taking a moral stand against gambling. People have several places to gamble if they want. We just want our city to avoid being a ‚Äúcasino ghetto‚Äù and not to depend on tax dollars that come into city coffers because someone lost the money at a casino.
Sixty-four jurisdictions across this state, like Pierce County, are led by Chambers and Councils that have called casinos what they are, not ‚Äúgaming‚Äù but predatory gambling. Because ‚Äúpromoting community‚Äù actually meant something to them, they banned gambling.
Lakewood should join them and live up to its mission by Voting Yes on Proposition One.
Save Lakewood Steering Committee
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