On Casino Gambling

Apparently the city is moving quickly on casino gambling. They need 1,000 signatures by tomorrow to get the issue to the point where they would need an additional 30,000+ signatures. At a news conference today, many city councilmen/councilwomen were present to support this initiative. Alarmed at how quickly this whole process is moving, I felt compelled to use my new city citizenship to make my voice heard. I sent the following email to the two council members leading the charge, CC'ing the mayor and the rest of council. We'll see what kind of response I get. I want to make it clear that I'm not going to use Echo as a means to push an agenda that I'm personally passionate about. Our focus as a church is on spreading the gospel. Regardless of what happens with this issue, we'll keep teaching Jesus. But as a citizen, I felt I had to make my opinion known on this matter.

Vice-Mayor Tarbell and Council Member Ghiz, I know you believe the time is short as you push for the signatures to get a casino in the Broadway Commons area. It seems many council members are approaching the project with reckless abandon, making sure that Cincinnati doesn't "miss out" on the potential revenues that a casino could bring to the area. But as a pastor and resident of this city, I would urge caution in proceeding too quickly. This issue should be thoroughly investigated, researching the consequences that putting a casino near the downtown area could bring.

I'm not naive enough to think that people aren't already gambling in many different forms in the city [i.e, the lottery] without a casino. Nor am I someone who thinks it wrong [or even "sinful"] to permit legalized gambling in the state of Ohio. I merely question the reasoning behind bringing a casino into our city.

What about crime? Isn't there already enough to go around? Much analysis has been done about crime in and around casino communities and there's always been a degree of subjectivity surrounding those statistics. But of all the studies I've perused on the subject, I've never read of a crime decrease resulting from legalized gambling.

Is it all about the money? Potential Cincinnati gambling revenue could be stolen from Lawrenceberg and Aurora, but at what cost? What about the proximity to the impoverished? There is a distinct difference between having a casino on the river in rural Indiana verses downtown Cincinnati. If you put a casino near the downtown area, right on major bus routes, you'll be tempting people who won't be able to turn down the lure of getting rich quick. We can deceive ourselves into believing that most gamblers will come from out of town, but the reality is that locals will be the bread and butter of this industry. I minister in the Walnut Hills area, a stone's throw from Broadway Commons. The last thing many of those residents need is an additional vice to tempt them.

Are there no better ways to create jobs/revenue here in town? Are you seriously telling me that $20 million per year is a sufficient exchange for the potential ruined lives of your constituents? If that's the case, why not legalize drug use? Obviously I'm being sarcastic, but both of them can lead to demise for the sake of profit.

And I would advise you not to fall prey to the peer pressure that's driving this sudden urgency to move forward. I can't accept the "everyone else is doing it, so we can't miss out" defense here. Just because Cleveland and Columbus chose this road doesn't mean that Cincinnati has to as well.

I felt compelled to write because this is an important issue to me. I was have lived my entire life in the greater Cincinnati area. This past year I moved my family from Warren County back into the city to start a church with the desire to help make Cincinnati a better place. I've believe in this city and have been encouraged about the possibility of it turning the corner. And with everything needed to get us there, in spite of all the current crime that holds us back, I'm told that casino gambling is the answer? I'm disappointed if that's the best this council can offer.

I pray that you do what's best for the people of this city.

Sincerely, Steve Carr