Home > All Is Well (TM), Casinos, Ohio Politics > Why Ohioans ought to vote YES on Issue 3 – Part II – Motown’s Resurrection

Why Ohioans ought to vote YES on Issue 3 – Part II – Motown’s Resurrection

28 October 2009

The Spirit of Detroit

For a long time, the City of Detroit has been after ‘something’ that would make it less like, well, Detroit.  Casinos have been touted as the salvation of the once great Murder, er, “Motor-City,” since the American automotive industry has been on the wane.  Here’s an article waxing positive about the opening of Detroit’s own MGM Grand Casino, in the Fall of 2007:

“..Motor City is revving up as a Midwest vacation destination.The $800 million MGM Grand Detroit, sister property to the splashy Las Vegas resort and the first MGM Grand hotel outside Vegas, is due to open downtown on Tuesday.

It brings 400 state-of-the-art rooms and suites, celebrity-chef restaurants, a bigger gaming facility than the current MGM Grand Detroit casino and a 20,000-square-foot spa to a city not known as a luxury travel destination.

“It’s the start of a string of good news for Detroit,” says Christopher Baum, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. Though sections of downtown are gritty, bike and jogging trails on 3 miles of the city’s cleaned-up riverfront opened this summer, and more than 1,600 new high-end hotel rooms are due in the next year.

Detroit has had a limited number of casinos since 1999, but “it is not thought of as a weekend escape,” says John Hutar, vice president of hotel operations for MGM Grand Detroit who formerly ran the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. Hutar hopes to change that image with what he calls “Detroit’s first true luxury” casino resort … “Las Vegas in the Midwest.”  “

Hm, sounds grand.  😉

But, for every Pollyanna, there are ten critics.  (Sigh).  Might as well get it over with, and hear with these bozos have to say:

“…The deal in Detroit differs from the one that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed for Maryland in some significant respects. For example, Detroit — rather than the state of Michigan — gets the biggest share of the money raised through gambling taxes.Pimlico, Laurel Park and Rosecroft — and at one planned for Allegany County.

And Detroit has full-scale casinos, with blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games; Ehrlich wants slot machines only at three racetracks —

But that difference is not as significant as it may appear.

By far, most of the space at each Detroit casino is devoted to slot machines, from which casino owners say they earn 80 percent or more of their money. Each houses 2,500 to 3,000 slot machines and 80 to 100 table games. Ehrlich’s plan would allow up to 3,500 electronic gambling devices at three Maryland tracks but no table games.

If Maryland gets its slots casinos, one lesson can be learned from Detroit — there’s no turning back the clock. Last year, the city received $111 million from the casinos — 6.2 percent of its $1.8 billion general fund budget.

“The city government has already become addicted to the revenues,” said slots critic Keith Crain, owner and publisher of Detroit-based Crain Communications Inc. “They wouldn’t know what to do without it. It’s just a fact of life.”  ..

But gambling also has carried social costs that are difficult to measure. Some local gamblers have resorted to embezzlement and other crimes after getting in over their heads.Greektown Casino. The woman was arrested when she tried to rob a bank to cover $5,200 in missing rent money, according to local news accounts.

In one case, a 50-year-old apartment manager was accused of losing her tenants’ rent money in slot machines at Detroit’s

In another reported case, an elementary school teacher from Cleveland turned to bank robbery after racking up big casino gambling losses in Detroit.

And there have been suicides related to gambling — including one inside the Motor City Casino. In that instance, an off-duty police officer from suburban Detroit who was losing big at blackjack pulled out his service revolver and shot himself in the head as terrified gamblers scrambled for the exits.

Virgil Carr, president of the United Way of Southeast Michigan, said the number of personal bankruptcy filings “went up substantially” in the tri-county Detroit metro area after casinos opened for business.

The social problems were easy to foresee, but government failed to provide the resources needed to address them, Carr said.

“Social organizations are not the power brokers,” Carr said. “We didn’t have the political muscle to get things moving the way we wanted to.”

Casino company executives say the vast majority of people gamble responsibly.

“If people want to gamble, they’ll gamble,” said Jack C. Barthwell III, a spokesman for Motor City Casino. “It’s entertainment.”

…Crain, the publisher, said he has been surprised the casinos do not seem to have had a noticeable impact on other businesses.

“Honestly, nobody’s complaining,” Crain said. “You take $1 billion out of the economy, somebody’s got to be losing. I don’t know who it is.”

Crain said he objects to the government raising money through gambling because he views it as a tax on the poor and bad public policy. He said the casinos are a magnet for people who can ill afford to lose their money.

“You will not see a lot of suits over there,” Crain said.

One other fear hasn’t materialized — that crime rates would soar in areas around the casinos. But that’s no accident.

The casinos, which also have an internal security force, pay $10 million a year for extra uniformed police patrols outside, according to Lt. John Autrey of the Detroit Police Department’s gaming unit. The 76 police officers patrol the casino areas around the clock.

“This is one of the safest places you could be,” said Barthwell, the Motor City Casino spokesman. Payment for the patrols is on top of the $111 million a year betting tax the casinos pay to the city, he said.

While street crime hasn’t been a significant problem, police have faced other challenges, Autrey said, including an increase in false felony reports.

Seeking a cover story for an angry spouse, some patrons will tell police they were robbed when they lost their money inside a casino, Autrey said.

And police also have learned to question people who report their cars stolen from casino parking lots. Were they, perhaps, behind on payments?

The repossession people know to check the casino parking lots for cars they are looking for,” Autrey said.

More worrisome are problems of parents going to gamble while leaving children inside parked cars. Initially, that happened four or five times a month, Autrey said, but police cracked down hard, and the problem occurs far less often now.”

Okay.  I’ve had about all I can stand from these whiners.  Time for us to move along. 

Note also, dear friends, that the article is written for the folks in MarylandAs if there is any comparison between burnt-out urban centers on the Atlantic Coast, and those in the MidWest.  Sheesh. 

Come to think of it, the revenue from the Detroit casinos couldn’t re-open Belle Isle Aquarium, formerly the nation’s oldest aquarium.  It’s not like that was a large aquarium, either.  Eighty-eight percent of Detroiters voted to re-open it too.  They loved that little aquarium.  It might not be the Shedd, but it’s theirs.  Er, was, I mean. 

Alas, two years after the Detroit’s MGM Grand’s opening, Belle Isle Aquarium’s closing is the least of the cities worries, as it seems that Detroit is still struggling economically

“DETROIT (Reuters) – To understand why critics say the market-based tax foreclosure system is failing in Detroit, drive up Desoto Street near the city’s geographic center.

 The street is a mix of older ranch-style homes, new construction financed by a local church and wide-open green spaces where homes have been demolished or burned down.

 Fifteen vacant lots on the street were listed in the October auction by Wayne County officials after owners failed to pay taxes for the past three years. None of the lots sold at the minimum bid of $500.”

But really, it’s not fair to blame the lack of revenue on the casinos.  It’s our bad economy, which everyone knows is fault of Former President G.W. Bush.  Also, we might consider how bad things might have been now, without Detroit’s casinos.  Why, without the casinos, the minimum bids on those houses might be (gasp!) a paltry $490, instead of a respectable $500. 

The most pessimistic conclusion that is warranted (and it’s a stretch, at that), is that casinos can’t save a city that is in as bad of shape as Detroit. 

But again, that’s being way too pessimistic.  Detroit will do an about-face one of these days, you’ll see, and we’ll have the casinos to thank for it

And then all of those casino hating yo-yo’s will be sorry, boy-howdy. 

So to all of those nasty casino-dissin’ critics out there..


The Fist

Take that !

– Elder


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