EDITORIAL: More of same gaming noise

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Donít put too much stock in professorís anti-gambling screed.

ACCORDING TO A STUDY performed by a UW-Green Bay professor on behalf of a conservative Wisconsin think tank, if additional tribal casinos are approved in the state they could be competitive with existing gaming facilities.

Well.

Doesnít that seem just a bit obvious?

Whenever any new business opens it competes, to a greater or lesser degree, with others offering similar products. When a pizza restaurant opens, other pizza establishments could be affected. If a tire store opens, others selling tires might feel the competition.

Once upon a time in America that was called free enterprise, and it was revered.

WE SUSPECT this is just the latest in a long series of arguments thrown up as barriers to expansion by those who have moral objections to gambling. Readers should see it for what it is, and we hope all those in the review-and-approval sequence recognize that, too.

No disrespect intended, by the way, toward those whose moral beliefs are offended by the gaming industry. Just as America elevates free enterprise, so too should it uphold the right of free expression for all views.

Others ó count us in this group ó see the situation differently, though, and deserve respect as well.

THE FACILITY proposed for Beloit by the Ho-Chunk Nation clearly would benefit this community and region. Tens of millions of dollars would be spent building the site, providing employment for hundreds of skilled tradesmen and driving business for many local vendors. The tribe projects the facility would create more than 1,000 permanent jobs and more would come via spin-off development. The complex would add millions annually to the area payroll, in addition to paying substantial sums to local government in lieu of property taxes.

Beloitís unique location on the state line likely would have less impact on other Wisconsin casinos, because the site could be expected to draw substantially from the Illinois market. And think about this. The Ho-Chunk organization already operates several other casinos across the state. They know what theyíre doing. Would they be eager to open a Beloit casino if the net impact would be harmful to their other operations?

Thereís risk in any enterprise. Actual results cannot be measured until a plan goes into effect. Thatís true of casinos. Itís true of every start-up business opened any day in any city across this free land.

So donít get too agitated by the musings of an academic navel-gazer. Maybe he knows what heís talking about, maybe not. As they say at the ballpark, thatís why you play the games. The only time one knows if the prognosticators got it right or wrong is when they add up the score.

IF THEREíS A WORRY it may be this: The think tank, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, is a favorite of the conservative political set. It has been friendly to conservative causes, to Gov. Scott Walker and to the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Since the governor would have final say if federal authorities gave the green light to a Beloit casino, letís hope Walker is more concerned with the needs and desires of a struggling local community than with the professorís opinions.

Jobs should be the priority. Two years ago Walker promised to create 250,000 of them by the end of his four-year term. Half-way through, heís about 90% short. The prospect of more than a thousand new jobs ought to get his attention.

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