First, this proposition is extremely ill-timed, as our community and nation face a difficult economic future, local activists are attempting to eliminate a major source of tourism dollars. According to information presented during recent City Council meeting 87% of the local casino patrons are from outside Lakewood. If you think this is an appropriate time to force these budget reductions I urge you to go to the City’s website and download the budget documents provided to the council and review them, and look where you would cut specific programs or services to generate the nearly $3,000,000 which will be lost if Proposition 1 passes.
Second, is the idea of banning a legal and highly regulated business, for the sake of protecting the public is illogical. This might be a more reasonable argument if it would truly have any effect on gambling locally. But as has been indicated in several other letters in the SubTimes, there are a multitude of remaining forms of gambling which will still be readily available to the public. And if this is simply a first step‚Ä¶ this is not the time.
Third, some signatures were collected under false pretenses. On several occasions I was approached outside the Safeway in the Towne Center to sign a petition. In each case since I was aware of the intended proposition I decided to listen to the individual’s sales pitch. After the signature collector’s impassioned pitch I asked one question would this affect the current casinos operating in Lakewood. The answer was NO. Unfortunately that is not true, and it seems to me that any signatures collected during this process are potentially tainted and should be thrown out.
Fourth, the comparison to the Tacoma Ban is not as linear as purported. Tacoma’s ban was a phased approach over five years, not an immediate shutdown. A phased approach gave time to both the operators of these establishments to transition to a new business plan, as well as giving the City time to negotiate and prepare for the planned loss in revenue. Proposition 1 has no plan.
Fifth, is the argument that banning gambling will reduce crime. Often it is argued that the casinos are a drag on Lakewood’s public safety resources (crime). So let’s look at this for a moment, a vast majority of the casinos patrons do not live in Lakewood and therefore in general do not utilize our resources in the same capacity as residents. I understand that much of the alleged crime and subsequent family problems often associated with problem gambling happen outside the casinos (namely at home,) and as we have recently learned 87% of the patrons are not Lakewood residents. So a vast majority of the crime and family strife, if truly caused by gambling, would not be a burden on the City of Lakewood except for those crimes being committed at the establishments themselves. Which brings me to a recent analysis of crime statistics presented to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (available to the public) comparing the four casinos and other local establishments concerning police activity. The facts do not support the claim that eliminating gambling will directly and significantly decrease crime. What the facts do support if they are to be interpreted literally is we should not allow folks to gather in numbers greater than 1.
I strongly believe if we approach this decision with logic, a cool head, and some compassion we as a community would realize moving the potential problem down the road is no solution. Regulating and controlling the access to these establishments is a far better way to control the issue. Truly, if we want to “Save Lakewood” we should work to provide better education and awareness to our citizens as to the warning signs of addiction. In conclusion, the loss of tourism revenue will be real and will limit the funds available for non-essential services like support groups and addiction services. Please vote No on Proposition 1, and demand a plan for Lakewood.
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