'Don't Gamble' group fights Spencer casino

Monday, November 17, 2003

A citizens group in Clay County, calling itself Don't Gamble With Our Future (DGWOF), has been established to combat the proposed request for legalizing gaming by a separate group of Clay County citizens calling themselves the Clay County Gaming Initiative.

After sponsoring a recent public forum in which nationally recognized anti-gaming spokesperson Tom Grey spoke, the group, represented by Tim Frank and Barb Van Wyk, announced Tuesday through a press release its key issues and concerns regarding the county gaming matter.

Citing four main areas: flawed economics, poor public policy, failure to respect the quality of life, and loss of local control, Frank suggested that there are many problems with the gaming issue as it is being portrayed on the public stage.

As part of the group's flawed economics argument, DGWOF claimed, "gambling is not economic development, gambling will likely reduce retail sales, the industry fails to produce high quality jobs, and casino gambling serves as a red flag to prospective industries."

"I remember when the lottery was introduced to Iowans, it was implemented to take care of the budgetary problems of Iowa schools. In actuality, it did not solve this problem. Instead the legislators have increased this revenue source and still are unable to solve our state's financial problems. This alone is strong evidence that gambling doesn't create any wealth, it only moves it around."

Van Wyk added, "If there is anything the DGWOF wants citizens to be clear about, it is that the referendum is about whether we want to open the doors to casino gambling. Period. That's it. We do not get to decide who gets the license, what kind of facility, the location of the casino, or who the investors will be. Once we decide we want gambling, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will decide the rest. We lose all control. That is the law - and it lasts for 10 years."

On the information sheet, the DGWOF indicated, "Gambling is poor long-range policy for long term growth. In fact, the viability of a community is actually threatened by the presence of casino gambling especially in rural areas. Gambling is seen as a last ditch effort and is likely to drain a community of its resources."

The group pointed directly to research it claims an increase in crime, bankruptcies, abuse and addiction that gambling contributes to.

"It has been said that gambling is just entertainment," Van Wyk remarked. "If that were really true, then why did the legislators remove the limits? The gambling community only uses preselected positives and never tells about the costs of their benefits."

The organizers of DGWOF announced plans for upcoming public forums, one of address "Health and Addiction Issues and Gambling" and another focusing on "Families and Gambling." These sessions are being planned for November and December.

An additional series of informational meetings are available to local clubs and organizations within the county, and a "get-out-the-vote" campaign is being planned in conjunction with the December 16 election date.

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