Lakewood voters deserve to have the facts before voting to ban mini-casinos.
Lakewood’s four mini-casinos are house-banked cardrooms, limited by law to 15 tables of house-banked blackjack or poker. They have no slots, no craps no roulette, no bingo, and no keno. They are not major sources of crime and police calls-for-service in Lakewood. Several bars and even one restaurant have significantly higher police calls-for-service. With strict surveillance and security requirements, mini-casinos actually deter criminal activity.
Lakewood mini-casinos are legitimate, licensed and strictly regulated businesses. The market decides how many will survive, just as it decides how many bars, grocery stores, hair salons, or latte’ stands will survive.
Problem gamblers have many other places to gamble. Eliminating mini-casinos will not “save” problem gamblers from their addiction, especially given the proximity of tribal casinos and availability of the state lottery, bingo halls and taverns that sell pull tabs.
Consider this from the National Council on Problem Gambling.:
‚Äú1% of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 2 ‚Äì 3% would be considered problem gamblers. . . most adults who gamble are able to do so responsibly.”
Excessive gambling can be a problem for families. So can excessive use of alcohol. Ironically, closing Lakewood mini-casinos will actually result in less funding for the state‚Äôs problem gambling treatment, education and awareness program ‚Äì funded by the industry.
Mini-casinos are not the huge problem initiative proponents make them out to be. Poverty and diversity are major sources of Lakewood’s economic and educational challenges and will remain. What will change significantly is that the city will have less revenue to meet these challenges, for preventive services, to assist children and families, for police, parks, planning, streets, and services to seniors.
I am no fan of gambling and have never even bought a lottery ticket, but banning mini-casinos is a needless gamble for Lakewood. I urge a No vote on Proposition 1.
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