To the Editor:
In Washington County, we strive for lives characterized by honest work, kindnesses extended to friends and family, and by a sense that if we treat others right, they might do the same for us.
Those values are under attack by the riverboat casino initiative. Instead of using our brains or backs to earn our livings, we're being asked to help fleece our fellow Iowans in pursuit of an alleged pot of fools' gold.
While "everyone can be a winner," few gamblers are. Catfish Bend expects 1.4 million visitors to lose $70 million each year. That's about $190,000 a day, $8,000 an hour, $133 per minute, and $2 per second. In the time it takes to read this paragraph, the casino wins $50, so pay attention, because every word counts.
Casino backers promise good jobs, but won't say what typical workers will earn. They claim AVERAGE wages of $12 to $14 per hour, but won't tell you the MEDIAN. At their other casinos, the jobs being advertised pay $6.45, the lowest rate allowed by law. A few six-figure salaries boost an average fast, but won't help workers toiling at the state-mandated minimum.
Backers also promise money for philanthropy. The larger truth is the family owning most of the casino will collect $10 for every $1 the county's residents receive, and the other investors get another $10. We may have visions of a new high school in Washington, a new jail, or spruced up downtowns, but $2.6 million split 21,000 ways isn't enough to make fundamental differences in our lives, especially when the non-profit commission (the entity holding the gambling license) gets to choose how the money is spent.
On Aug. 31, though, you get to choose. Look past the glossy brochures and ask yourself f you rally believe $70 million can be lost without profound social effects, if local businesses can compete against gambling-subsidized enterprises, or if meager wages and modes disbursements will improve the quality of life in our county or in your home.
Vote NO Aug. 31. We live in a great place. With your vote, we can keep it that way.