To the Editor:
Bring in a gambling casino and see hw our quality of life in Riverside and Washington County changes. The proponents tout financial benefits, many too good to be true, for our towns and county. I don't think they are telling the whole story.
It has been shown that gambling casinos are a financial drain on existing small businesses. This includes loss of revenue to area restaurants, shops and tourist attractions. Money spent to patronize local businesses will, instead, be dropped at the casino. After all, the average of $50 lost by each gambler each time they enter the casino does not fall out of the sky. It comes out of people's pockets.
Do we want gambling and the associated problems that certainly accompany it to be what Riverside and Washington County are known for? Is gambling what we want our young people to grow up being influenced by on a daily basis? Surely no one thinks gambling promotes strong family values, a good work ethic or financial responsibility.
The "convenience" of having a gaming establishment in our community will increase the number of residents who will become gambling addicts.
Attorney Michael Mahaffey of Montezuma, a member of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, was quoted in The Sunday Des Moines Register on Aug. 1, "More casinos will create more problem gamblers...Being a small-town lawyer and part-time county attorney, I have seen the impact of gambling in terms of embezzlements and bankruptcies and family and business problems."
Lisa Pierce, the director of Central Iowa Gambling Treatment Program, points out that 59 percent of the program's clients in Polk County either have claimed bankruptcy or are filing for bankruptcy.
These troubling facts and many others cause me to ask, "Is a casino a good thing for Washington County?"
We may not realize the value of what we have here in small town, rural Iowa until it is lost. I favor healthy planned economic growth for our area. But, in the rush to "grow" by inviting a gambling casino into our lives, we must be very sure that the promised benefits are worth certain harmful effects to our way of life.
The leaders and citizens of Washington County owe it to themselves and the future residents of this beautiful land we call home to look carefully at the facts about gambling casinos that are being provided by the C.A.R.E. group.
We need to be particular about what we bring into our lives. Once the casino, and all the costs it will surely bring, are here, it will be too late to change our minds.
Christine T. Thomann