The answer is: ‘Yes.’ That’s according to MinnPost writer Steve Berg in a column about a proposed Minneapolis gaming venture.
“aside from Las Vegas, a fantasy island built on gambling and tourism, I’m unaware of any U.S. city that has built a casino for any reason other than desperation. Failing Rust Belt cities build casinos. Detroit and Pittsburgh have them. Cleveland and Cincinnati are joining the list. Saginaw and Lansing, Mich., and Rockford, Ill., want to build them.”
I’d also add Milwaukee; Gary, Indiana and Erie, Pennsylvania to that list. I’m sure there’s other cities I’m leaving out.
And it seems that casinos are often sold to these cities as a way to promote jobs and economic development.
But Berg says a casino just seems to smack of desperation. He also points out Vancouver recently rejected a casino proposal, somewhat on these grounds: “[It] doesn’t fit with Vancouver’s global brand as the world’s most livable city, as the green capital of the world, as a hotbed for innovation in clean and digital technology in resource management,” according to Vancouver’s mayor.
More info on the Minneapolis casino proposal is here.
Really interesting article in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek about Niagara Falls, New York, and some of the problems it faces despite being next to what is litterally one of the largest tourist attractions in the world.
The article details how Niagara Falls
“encompasses just about every mistake a city could make… a 1960s mayor’s decision to bulldoze his quaint downtown and replace it with a bunch of modernist follies. There was a massive hangar-like convention center designed by Philip Johnson; Cesar Pelli’s glassy indoor arboretum, the Wintergarden, which was finally torn down because it cost a fortune to heat through the Lake Erie winter; a shiny office building known locally as the “Flashcube,” formerly the headquarters of a chemical company and now home to a trinket market. Once a hydropowered center of industry, Niagara Falls is now one of America’s most infamous victims of urban decay, hollowed out by four decades of job loss, mafia infiltration, political corruption, and failed get-fixed-quick schemes.”
My take-away after reading this article: cities can’t look for ‘silver bullet’ fixes. Convention center. Giant mall. Casinos. Sounds like Niagara Falls has tried everything with little success.
A new mayor has made some folks optimistic, the story explains, by promoting eco-tourism and trying to attract companies that specialize in alternative energy.
What do you think after reading this story?
I’ve been to the Falls a number of times, but always to the Canadian side, never to the New York side.
Take a look at this column from the Gary Post-Tribune.
This Indiana city has had casinos since the 1990s, and yet they haven’t really brought the economic development that was promised, this writer believes.
“The Gary casinos haven’t been a complete flop. They have provided jobs and tax revenue of up to $25 million a year to the city,” he writes. “But, the economic development hasn’t followed.”
And keep in mind…Gary is just a short drive from the metropolis of Chicago. And one of those casinos had the Trump name on it, according to the story.
Yet the city continues to think a casino could be its salvation, like Captain Ahab pursuing the whale, as the author puts it.
Leaders in the Ohio cities that just landed casino agreements would do well to take note of what has – and hasn’t worked – in Gary.
Ohio voters recently passed a constitutional amendment that will allow for the construction of four casinos in the state for the first time.
One will be located in each Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
Ohio voters have turned down ballot initiatives like this one before. But it seems this time the need for jobs and the pervasiveness of casino gambling in neighbor states helped sway the electorate.
Anyway, there’s been a lot of debate over whether this will ultimately be good or bad. I thought it would be interesting to hear from other Rustifarians about their cities’ experiences with casino gambling.
What’s the word Pittsburgh? Detroit? St. Louis?