Normally, if a developer said he wanted to spend his own money to build a brand new entertainment facility in downtown Cleveland, everyone in Northeast Ohio would be cheering for it.
Unless, of course, that facility was a casino.
Gambling holds a certain stigma in the minds of many Ohioans. There are fears of crime and addiction. And should the government be profiting off a vice such as gambling?
But no studies have shown that casinos cause an increase in crime except the increase that naturally comes when more people are in a given location. In other words, if you double the number of people in a city, you would expect crime to also double. More people equals more crime. Perhaps we could eliminate ALL crime in Cleveland by kicking everyone out of the city and building a giant wall around it.
Those who may become addicted to gambling already have plenty of casinos to gamble at in surrounding states. They can even do it here, courtesy of the Ohio Lottery. Because apparently some people think it's okay to take a gamble at a gas station but not in a casino.
And with taxes on alcohol and cigarettes among other things, I think the government is already profiting off our "vices".
In arguing for a casino in downtown Cleveland, I'm going to ignore the thousands of jobs it would bring.
(on a side note: ignore those negative commercials that say it wouldn't be Ohio jobs. Are they going to have robots run the blackjack tables? Either they hire current Ohioans to work there or they BRING IN people from other states who then BECOME Ohioans. How is people moving to Ohio for a job considered a bad thing? But it will probably be current Ohio residents -- how else would they replace the "experienced casino workers" that they moved to Ohio from other states?)
I'll even ignore the millions of dollars the casino would bring in as the most taxed business entity in the state, not to mention the payroll taxes of the people that work there, live in the area and spend their paychecks at local businesses.
The main reason why I support Issue 3 is the development it would bring to downtown Cleveland. People talk about wanting to make downtown a "24/7 city". A place where people live, work, stay and play. Having a casino fits in perfectly with that vision, which is why Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson supports Issue 3 as does Positively Cleveland, the area's convention and visitor's bureau.
According to the amendment, there are several areas around Tower City where the casino could be built. (see a map of the areas here) The spot that makes the most sense is what's currently a parking lot between Tower City and the Cuyahoga River, near Quicken Loans Arena. (which is exactly where the Yes On Issue 3 website shows it will be) This would allow great connectivity to restaurants, hotels, shopping and sports, along with potentially great views of the river.
Downtown Cleveland should be filled with entertainment options not found in the suburbs. This could be one of those options! It's also one more thing for visitors to do while they're in town along with going to our world-class restaurants, museums, theatrical productions, concerts and sporting events. It may be the additional thing that convinces them to stay a night in Cleveland instead of just passing through for the day, helping our downtown hotels.
Some have said a downtown Cleveland casino will hurt current bars and restaurants. But the same was said about East Fourth Street and very few people would argue the positive impact that area has had on the city. Will some people eat at the casino instead of another restaurant in the Gateway district? Yes. Will some people come to the casino that would have never come to downtown Cleveland otherwise and decide to venture out to non-casino restaurants? Yes.
More people coming downtown means more opportunities for local businesses to capitalize on that traffic.
Others have said, "We should be spending money on X instead of a casino." Or "What about focusing on Y instead of a casino?" A casino will not be the solution to all of Cleveland's problems. But it's an important piece of downtown development -- like the Medical Mart and the revitalization of Euclid Avenue -- that could lead to more positive change in the future.
"But a casino didn't help [insert another city's name here]." Every city is different and every circumstance is different. As a region, we have to stop looking at the negative possibilities of everything we hear and instead focus on the positive and push forward.
On November 3, vote yes on downtown Cleveland development. Vote Yes on Issue 3!
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