The well-organized proponents of a casino for Cedar Rapids apparently have gathered enough signatures to place the issue before the electorate and they are pressing for an early vote.
They argue that a local casino would create jobs and encourage Linn County gamblers to place their bets at home rather than at other area casinos. The opponents argue that existing casinos offer more than adequate gaming opportunities and that social costs would far outweigh any potential benefits.
Kurt Rogahn addressed the latter point in a recent Gazette column (“Casinos make money from losers,” Jan. 13).
However, the casino issue can, and in my opinion should, be viewed in a broader economic context. True, a casino would create some jobs and generate profits. But most of the jobs would be relatively low-skill level and relatively low paying. The profits would go mostly to the investors and taxing entities. A casino provides no goods or services that result in net economic gain.
If, on the other hand, the approximately $100 million invested in a casino were to be invested in a viable business enterprise offering goods and services needed in the community and country, better jobs and “net economic value added” would be created over time.
Cedar Rapids has great high-quality businesses. Can’t the community add something better than a casino to that mix?