Casino In The Fort?

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry

Shortly after taking office earlier this year, Mayor Tom Henry let it be known that he would welcome a casino to Fort Wayne or the region.  Not much was said about it then, but one thing to come out of the on-going City Budget Hearings has been renewed interest in this topic.  The question was asked point blank of Deputy Mayor Greg Purcell by Councilman Mitch Harper if this was still an option.  He responded that there were on-going talks.

A recent News-Sentinel/WANE-TV poll asked the following question, “Would you favor or oppose a gaming boat in Fort Wayne as a part of the often discussed North River Project?”  First, I think the question was too narrow and probably had some people scratching their head asking, “North River Project?  What?  Where?”  It hasn’t been in the public’s eye for many months and most probably don’t know much about it.  Add to this that the project really doesn’t have any definition or scope or even exist at this point.  The question should have been, “Would you favor or oppose a gaming boat in Fort Wayne?”  In the final analysis, I think it would have shifted quite a few of those “Not Sures” to something a bit more definite.  Anyway, the results were:

Grouping Favor Oppose Not Sure
All 32% 36% 32%
Men 35% 34% 31%
Women 29% 38% 33%
Democrats 32% 35% 33%
Republicans 34% 34% 32%
Independents 30% 39% 31%

A follow up question was, “Should it be done by a regional development authority to support regional infrastructure and economic development?” (Only asked among the 32% who responded in favor). The response here was 42% in favor, 18% against and 40% not sure.

Another follow up question asked of those who responded favorably was, “Should it be done by Fort Wayne to support community development?”  Yes – 45%, No – 17%, Not sure – 38%.  This was really the only question asked that had any value or validity.

Regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, consider this.  One of the problems many have with tax abatements as an economic development tool, is that they take away from the revenue generated by property taxes.  And yet, every municipality has tax abatements or the ability to grant them.  If you don’t have them or use them, it becomes a question of how much economic development you loose because you cannot offer incentives to businesses.

My point here is that we need to put moral issues aside with this and approach it from a business stand point, which is a tall order for this area.  Revenue streams for local government were extremely limited in the last legislative session by House Bill 1001.  A casino can have an economic impact on local economies.  I’m not calling it a cash cow, but it could definitely help our local government and economy with residual spending and taxes paid.  

If you don’t have a casino, or the ability to get one, you loose, pure and simple.

Thanks to Jeff Pruitt, for the heads up on the poll!  Also read Mitch Harper’s recent post and poll about this topic at Fort Wayne Observed.

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