- Faith & Family
There have been several stories about the pros and cons of casinos. I wonder, “ if casinos are so good for the economy, why does Nevada have higher unemployment and more foreclosures than Florida? I know casinos have been a mixed blessing for Atlantic City. Right now we have two major casinos and I don’t believe their impact has been all that significant. The two Native American casinos are not downtown and their impact on traffic has not been significant.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Las Vegas. The casinos cause traffic to come to a halt almost every day on the strip at all times. I would not want Las Vegas _ like traffic. I also know gambling is an addiction and giving people more ways to gamble may create more problems in our community. Finally, with casinos come hustlers and prostitutes. While we currently have prostitutes and hustlers, the level of prostitution is going to go way up with three new casinos coming to South Florida.
I also believe that casinos will bring new construction jobs, which we badly need. They will also bring new jobs for hotel workers, dealers and other hotel staff. This could be good for us. Casinos will increase our tax revenue, but it appears that a lot of that money will go up north, and it is not clear how much will stay in South Florida. It could be that we get increased crime, increased traffic congestion, some lower wage jobs, and all the tax revenue goes to some pet projects of Northern Legislators and Governor Scott.
I also believe that casinos will suck the life out of the restaurants and stores in downtown, midtown and Coconut Grove. Casinos keep their guests inside and so restaurants and stores outside the casino will suffer. This could kill the nascent development downtown and in midtown.
Ultimately, I have not been swayed by the hype over the casinos, because no one has mentioned how the advent of casinos will help the Black community. Are we going to get any of the construction contracts? Are we going to receive any hotel jobs? Are we going to get concessions for limousines, etc. ? Right now, it appears that the needs and desire of Black people are not even in the equation. We are being completely ignored.
If the casino owners offered 10 per cent of construction jobs to Black – owned construction companies then I might get a little interested. If they offered 20 per cent of their jobs to Black people then I would be even more interested. If they offered to fund the renovation of the Lyric Theater and donate money to rebuild some businesses in Overtown, then I would be really interested. In my opinion, our Black commissioners in government should block this deal unless we are guaranteed jobs, more business opportunities and more funding for our community.
By Reginald Cline, Esq.
Miami Times columnist