Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Gambling Debate in Hampton, Iowa
Some 330 miles west of where I am sitting in Chicago lies the town of Hampton in Franklin County, Iowa. Monday night, Hampton was the site of a meeting about whether a casino should be opened in Franklin County. The evening was centered around a report presented by the president of the Iowa Gaming Association. The Gaming Association's website greets visitors with this message:
Providing Economic Development Through Entertainment
The gaming industry is one of the most successful and dynamic
sectors of the Iowa economy. With this success comes
responsibility. In addition to tax revenues generated by our
membership, every IGA facility is focused on community support
through a variety of municipal and social projects, including efforts
to promote responsible gaming.
The arguments presented by the president of the Iowa Gaming Association in support of a casino pretty much followed this script. One tidbit taken from the linked Hampton Chronicle article: "Gaming facilities [in Iowa] purchase nearly 1.5 million pounds of beef, over 1 million pounds of pork, 1.2 million pounds of poultry, 133,000 gallons of milk and 3.3 million eggs annually". In the ensuing discussion -- in which it sounds as if the president was rather beleaguered -- he noted that methamphetamine presented a bigger problem in Iowa than did gambling. That feint was none-too-successful, judging from the linked article. Eventually, he trotted out a version of the futility argument: gambling is going to take place in Iowa whether or not this new casino is approved. The linked news article provides a wonderful look at one community's struggle with legalized gambling.