Casino would be a bad deal for the Oxford Hills
People will spend a tremendous amount of money in casinos, money that they would normally spend on buying a refrigerator or a new car. Local businesses will suffer because they lose customer dollars to the casinos.
Donald Trump, owner, Taj Mahal Casino, Atlantic City, N.J.
I’m not against gambling. And I’m not in favor of telling other people how to spend their money. What I’m against is building a casino where the harm it inflicts would far outweigh any good it does. That’s why I’m against the proposed Oxford County “Resort Casino.” Its supporters have grossly exaggerated the supposed benefits of a casino while pretending there will be no costs to the community. The truth is that the costs would be much greater than the possible benefits, resulting in a net loss for the Oxford Hills.
Let’s clear up one thing first: there’s no “Resort” in the “Resort Casino.” It’s a casino. A restaurant, a hotel, and a “spa” does not make a “resort” that will be a “destination” for tourists. Sunday River is a “destination resort”; this is a gambling casino, plain and simple.
Second, the “Gabe Report” touted by the casino proponents makes unsupported and unsupportable “predictions” about jobs and money coming to Oxford. Economists cite statistics the way the Devil cites Scripture. In fact, outside of Foxwoods and Las Vegas, there is no actual casino that comes close to producing results like the ones being claimed for this one. Towns with neighborhood gambling casinos like this one are no better off, and more often worse off, than they were before the casinos went in.
As Donald Trump says, casinos just take the money that local people are already spending in the local economy and suck it into the casinos. Existing businesses suffer and jobs are lost. Worse, casinos do their best to tempt people to spend even the money they would otherwise save and invest. Casinos are extremely successful at draining the money dry. The Oxford casino scheme even plans to allow gambling on credit.
That’s why it’s important to remember that this will not be a “destination resort.” Gambling operations like this one are overwhelmingly dependent on spending by local citizens, and the experiences of existing regional casinos show that 80 percent to 90 percent of the customers come from within a one- or two-hour drive of the casino. Casino supporters actually boast that a casino in Oxford may keep local people from traveling to Foxwoods, which proves the point that the casino plan is dependent on taking local money.
And while the casino may create some jobs, there is absolutely no guarantee that many of these jobs will be available for the local workforce. There is such a saturation of casinos around the country now, including three that are currently proposed for Massachusetts, that they don’t often pan out the way the developers plan; and that means a lot of displaced experienced professional casino workers looking for jobs wherever they can go to get them.
So the benefits have been greatly exaggerated. But what about the costs? An Oxford casino would put tremendous pressure on existing infrastructure to accommodate the concentration of people in one place, people who otherwise might be spending their money in a variety of locations, including other gambling venues like lottery ticket sellers, bingo halls, and race tracks. They will all suffer from cannibalization of the gambling dollars by the casino.
Traffic will snarl and wreck roads. The traffic congestion will require building more roads and bridges to prevent traffic jams at a time when we can’t afford to fix the road we have now.
Police, fire, rescue, the local hospital, and public safety providers will be overburdened and the additional property tax revenue generated by the casino will not cover the additional costs to the taxpayers generally.
The “neighborhood” gambling casino will also bring in many people who otherwise would not travel out of state to gamble, spending the money they would otherwise spend in existing businesses, while rates of problem and pathological addiction will rise steeply, along with crime, bankruptcy and divorce rates. This is exactly what has happened around existing neighborhood casinos all over the country.
Casino developers always promise huge revenues, hundreds of jobs and economic development spin-offs for surrounding towns. But their promises just don’t live up to reality, and the jobs the casino can bring come with a huge price tag.
I will vote NO on Ballot Question 1. If you are interested in learning more about the proposed casino, I urge you to check out Facebook for information on “Oxford Hills NO on 1,” a community of local residents opposed to the casino.