Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cleveland, Do We Really Need Gambling?....Or Kenny!

I hope that since many other casino operations offer entertainment such as live shows, that Cleveland's will create something similar by offering a chance to see some of the older performers like Kenny Loggins, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes... I noticed Kenny was performing at a casino in West Virginia, recently--and in previous years Harold and his Blue Notes were performing in the Poconos. This is the sort of thing other places offer and draws a more quality clientele. Maybe these kinds of shows can be offered at Quicken Loans Arena.

But entertainment is really not what I am going to focus on....I am more so, as in the past wondering if this whole casino bit is a good idea at all to place in a position to be some sort of benefactor to the city. I am not convinced that this is the best we can do for economic development, and certainly not the most creative, as casinos in this part of the country are becoming as common as another Wal-Mart!

The regional saturation component when standing alone, is enough reason why I feel ultimately the novelty will wear down, and nothing will be special about another casino. Surely not special enough to attract destination travelers with money to burn. We will never be a Las Vegas, nor should we strive to be, because we do not need to be. It is more likely the casino will attract mostly locals with little money, and many go hoke broker than when they came! Still, I hope that in the end, as reluctant as I am about this project, that it is not just about gambling and that other forms of entertainment, like Kenny, will be offered. Gaming can surely be part of some positive elements in a city, but not looked upon as "the savior" in typical Cleveland desperate fashion. We looked at LeBron James in this light, look where that got us...the manufacturing base...look where that got us! Maybe its time to not place all our chips on one number, for a change?


Not only will people be gambling, but so is the city as a governing unit, "gambling" under the daring notion that it will generate so much revenue and cure many ills. Again, this might be true, but the question remains: Should we place ourselves in a position where we have to depend on that which is related to fostering obsessive and dysfunctional habits, for revenue? I say no, let's not make a habit of relying on these industries.

It is similar to placing the tobacco and junk food industries in a position where they can claim to be some sort of benefactor to a community because smoking (sale of cigarettes) helped pay for a stadium--OR, because Coke, Pepsi, and Frito Lay chuck a few pennies back to the schools where they place their vending machines. We really should think a bit deeper and awaken ourselves to the fact that these are NOT benefactors in the long run. They're not because we must consider the trickle down repercussions resulting in fostering poor health which has been shown to be a drain on the economy and benefits only few financially. So, where we gain on one side in the short term, we still lose on another.

Gaming has its own associations with fostering bad habits that have people spending what they don't have in the hope of winning it big, and thus, creating financial chaos in the hoke life--which carries with it all that can affect family because of it. The classic "externality" the industry has removed itself from. The industry proclaims "people should gamble responsibly" Do "gamble" and "responsible" really belong in the same sentence? Such seems a classic oxymoron! Gaming industry's profits heavily rely upon IRRESPONSIBILITY! But let's face it, their profits depend upon people making insatiable, spontaneous, gullible, and irresponsible decisions. The profits, indeed, result from the irresponsibility they warn against in the first place!

The same can be said for bad eating habits and smoking, when those industries pass the whole blame on being more personally responsible. While it is certainly essential to learn how to exercise more personal responsibility, what I do not want to hear are industries who profits depend on being irresponsible, telling us we need to be responsible! If we were, they'd lost a hell of a lot of business! But they know that bad habits are hard to break, especially those as in the case of smoking, where knowingly addictive chemicals are purposely added to get you hooked. So any industry that relies on its customer developing a obsessive habit, can proclaim such advice with confidence in knowing that it is unlikely that a grand enlightenment will overcome its followers.

I am straying away from the pointed question, though.... Back to the pointed question in the beginning: Should we place ourselves in a position where we have to depend on that which is related to fostering obsessive and dysfunctional habits, for revenue? Again, I answer "NO"...and follow with more questions that sum up why I say no: Do we want Cleveland to be labeled the fattest and most unhealthy city by traditionally anti-Cleveland publications like Forbes? The last thing we need is to become this publication;s exclusive target and punching bag.

How about the most financially crippled from gaming? Seriously, this sounds absurd, but Forbes has come up with just about every kind of list you can imagine!

Do we want myths about our city and region to be perpetuated even further, or have the myths actually come true which can result in a shunning or disinvestment in the city by potential stakeholders?

Finally, here is a question that just might result in revenue! How about good old fashioned home ownership and fostering neighborhoods that are attractive for such, like focusing on quality of life issues, safety, and clean environment and good schools? I know the gaming industry has posed as a benefactor to schools, but again, I ask....Do we want to have our schools reliant on gambling for the funding they need? We welcomed in junk food and this was just one part of many components that got us to an obesity level so shameful, that that the current generation of children may not outlive their grandparents! What are the costs?

Do we really want the gaming industry, despite the dark side we seldom hear of amidst all the hype, to be in a position to proclaim.. "The schools/city cannot survive without us...so we must get what we want!" (How did the planet survive before Vegas?!) Well, they're already off to a good start because they got what they wanted with the destruction of the pedestrian oriented city block, to make way for one which encourages less street foot traffic and more driving--that is, unless the design is altered. This might be appealing for the generation of obese we have nurtured.


At the beginning of all this , I mentioned that I hope the gaming scene will at least offer some quality entertainment at the Q. Yes, despite all the above skepticism, maybe a song by Kenny Loggins will make it all a bit more easy to digest. Perhaps "Celebrate Me Home" to remind us of how much establishing a good home life can contribute to making a great place in which to live and raise a family, and for that family to do the same! It happened before deals with gaming industry, tobacco or junk food, and I am confident it can happen again without them. Cleveland should not be so desperate as to whore itself out to anything in the name of "economic development" that comes along. Development at any cost can be costly! Maybe the last song can be Kenny's "I'm Alright" to remind Cleveland it can be alright without gambling!

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