Writer: Stanley wrong on casino

To the editor:

As was clear in Register & Bee reporter John Crane’s April 9 article, “Stanley argues against casino,” Sen. Bill Stanley is quite able — and willing — to take over a room and bully it into submission. I’d like to offer a more moderated but as sincerely-felt rebuttal:

(1) Nobody who is discussing this issue seriously and with an open mind envisions a Las Vegas/Atlantic City economic takeover. It would be a nice, perhaps significant, addition to our city’s offerings. It would allow people visiting VIR, the Martinsville Speedway and IALR events to have an extra reason to come. Perhaps it would inspire them to arrive a day early or stay a day late, to take advantage of our trails, museums and historical sites and have an extra hour or two in the casino. Perhaps it would inspire some regional or state organizations to meet in Danville, rather than Roanoke or Charlottesville. Perhaps it would attract more busloads of day trippers. None of this would detract from the main engines of economic development — precision machining, Berry Hill and state-of-the-art fiber optics downtown among others.

(2) Even assuming a positive vote on a referendum, there is no guarantee that a casino would open here. The people who would own and operate the casino — experienced businessmen facing a major investment, not the city — would have to determine to their satisfaction that they can be successful long-term. They are aware of competitive pressures; they will evaluate the possibility of a casino opening in the Raleigh-Durham-Greensboro area; they will analyze the market potential. And ultimately they, not the city, will be on the hook if the business fails.

(3) I grew up in South Florida amid horse racing, dog racing and Jai Alai. I personally have no issue with legalized gambling. If I go and lose $150, it will be the price of admission for a few hours entertainment — not unlike the tickets I bought for the Hootie and the Blowfish concert in Raleigh. I understand others feel there is a moral issue here; I disagree with you, and I do not appreciate you imposing your sense of morals on me, but I recognize your right to your feelings. All I would ask is for you to be honest — if you are going to oppose the casino on moral grounds, be proud and say so. Don’t hide behind pseudo-economic arguments and overblown tales of impending doom. Then, at least, we can discuss what we really see as the issues involved.

I am hopeful that the Virginia General Assembly will allow the process to continue, and that we get the opportunity to vote in a referendum on the subject.



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