Thursday, October 23, 2008

Issue 6

It is hard to avoid hearing political ads on TV or radio during this time of year. A presidential election increases the flow of ads ten fold. I’ve tuned out most of the presidential ads, each one candidate trying to eek out an additional percentage point or two over his opponent. Ohio elections have already dug up voter fraud skeletons from previous elections and guarantee that the Buckeye state will be front-page news.

For me, the interesting issue this year is not who becomes the next President as much as whether casino gambling comes to Clinton County. Clinton County’s major employer, for those readers outside the Cincinnati area, is DHL. Recently DHL decided to sell off its routes to UPS and in effect shut down operations in Clinton County. Estimates are 6,000 jobs will be lost at the airpark and as many another 4-6,000 other jobs from related businesses will be lost. The casino promises to bring 5,000 new jobs. Opponents of the casino argue it will bring crime and increase addictions to gambling and substance abuse. Those in favor point out that Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have legalized gambling and thus Ohio is losing revenues.

Critics of casino gambling are concerned loopholes in Issue 6 can either allow more casinos to be built or does an inadequate job of insuring casino tax revenues are appropriately distributed. Issue 6 proponents claims these concerns are without merit and the casino will help offset the job losses created by DHL.

The casino will undoubtedly generate jobs for Clinton County, however how many of these jobs will be the higher paying dealer or manager positions? Often casinos bring in dealers who have learned their trade at the casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Managers and pit bosses are also imported from other casinos owned by the parent corporation. Nothing on the website discusses jobs other than in round numbers. I’m for new jobs for the region but I would like to see more detail about how these jobs will be filled.

Distribution of tax revenues is another matter that still is vague. Yes, the casino will pay taxes and yes a percentage of those revenues will go to the state and counties. How much this will be remains to be seen as the casino has yet to be built. What interests me is how much of the tax revenue, if any, will be set aside for the increased fire, EMS and police runs. The location for the proposed casino means Harveysburg and Wilmington fire and EMS along with Clinton County Sheriff’f Office will be dealing with overtime issues. Will these departments received increased funding through these tax revenues to offset the increased number of runs?

Clinton Memorial Hospital will be seeing an increased number of emergencies as stressed out patrons collapse from too much alcohol and gambling. How many of these patients will have health insurance? Will Clinton County Memorial receive any compensation for having additional physicians and nurses on duty to handle long weekends filled with out of town gamblers?

If Issue 6 passes, I hope there are more discussions that addresses the safety and security of our community regarding the casino.

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