Robert J. Schulman
ANOTHER VOICE, Buffalo News: 10/28/2006
City officials ignore facts about casino gambling
Two days after the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling Regional Conference occurred here, I saw Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder, Mayor Byron Brown and Seneca Gaming Corp. officials on public access TV replaying the Fulton Street sale approval announcement and predicting "development, waterfront connectedness, millions of tourists" and other such misleading sound bites. This offensive and private press staging did not present any opposing views or facts. No public input was offered or allowed. There was no citizen representation. This came as a result of surreptitious, behind-closed-door sham "negotiations" over the last two months that overlooked fact, economic research and obvious outcome in other communities.
By contrast, the educational, open NCALG conference provided solid economic analysis by experts and research founded on realities. It has been clearly shown that urban casinos cause harm far in excess of any help to the city. Again, look at Detroit, Niagara Falls, New York, Louisiana, Turning Stone or the big casinos in Connecticut - all true losers for these communities.
Please understand that there is real human tragedy for individuals and families being created in these "entertainment" palaces. Adult gamblers are modeling the risk of future misery for their children. Buffalo Creek (which will hopefully never open) in legal documents wrote its stated intention is to bring in the local population, but now claims "in writing" that it cares about promoting itself to the region.
The Senecas and Brown have no data, no facts and no proof to support the future benefit to Buffalo. The first year's $125 million will go to the building trades - Brown's allies - and yearly thereafter $150 million or more will leave the economy and bring in a zero-development Niagara-Falls type scene, good only for the Senecas and gambling industry supporters.
For every dollar generated, $3 will be lost and $12 million to $16 million in taxes will belong to the sovereign nation, not the city. Five million dollars for the city from the slot cut is 50 percent less than revenue from parking enforcement as projected in the 2006-07 budget.
Is anyone in City Hall doing the math or checking the facts? Not one city official came to the gambling conference. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission stated that as the money is lost faster, the socioeconomic negatives increase dramatically. Its final report confirmed that the gambling industry had created new addicted gamblers, new bankruptcies and new crime and corruption. The 1999 U.S. Gambling Commission unanimously called for a moratorium on the expansion of U.S. gambling. Sadly, however, it has grown into a monster.
Anyone with sense can see the harm coming to Buffalo. Jobs will be lost, restaurants closed, families devastated, bankruptcies and crime increased. The casino is a strategy for injustice, not economic development.
Robert J. Schulman, M.D., lives in Buffalo.