2020 | Week of April 20 | Radio Transcript #1356
You have to wonder. Does the Bureau of Indian Affairs know we are the midst of a national health crisis? While most of Wisconsin remains suspended in time and activity and people are focused on figuring life out on a day-to-day basis, apparently that’s not true for the federal-level Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
Taking advantage of the media paying little to no attention to anything other than COVID-19 news, the BIA approved late last week an off-reservation casino in Beloit proposed by the Ho Chunk Nation. Now that this final federal approval has happened, the application goes to Governor Evers’ desk for the final decision.
The Wisconsin Citizens Against Expanded Gambling, the main group pushing back against this proposal, issued a press release noting that “if approved by the Governor, the Beloit Casino would be a precedent-setting, first-of-its-kind, off-reservation casino in Wisconsin.” This precedent setting is very significant.
Basically according to the compacts the state has with the tribes regarding gambling, what one tribe gets, they all get. So should the governor approve this casino, it then opens wide the door for the other ten tribes to request an off-reservation casino. At that point, there’s really no legal basis for denying their request.
So, let’s talk about casinos in Wisconsin. First, the market is already over-saturated with 25 of these money-taking, addiction-making establishments throughout the state, which means no one has more than a two-your drive to get to one. A new casino will kind of rob from Peter to pay Paul, because the new one will just reduce what another tribe is making since the market is already glutted.
Second, an off-reservation casino involves giving land to a Native American tribe to be used in any way that tribe wants to use it. In Beloit, ultimately if the Governor approves this casino, this involves over 70 acres of prime land in the city of Beloit that once placed in trust for the tribe is theirs to control in perpetuity. Remember these tribes are sovereign nations; what they own and control, local government has no say over. They can say they are going to build a casino, but what if that plan never materializes; and they build a strip club on that property? There’s no guarantee.
Third, research shows that when casinos come to a community, they destroy local businesses. Our small local businesses are having a very tough time right now. We don’t need a casino to make their situation worse. Research done by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute found that if a casino was not in a community, over 10 percent of local residents would have spent more money on groceries, and about 25 percent of local residents would have spent more on clothing.
Fourth, casinos bring addiction and crime. Research shows that having a casino within 10 miles of one’s home creates a 90 percent increase in the odds of someone becoming a pathological or problem gambler. Nearly 65 percent of all problem gamblers have committed a crime as a result of their gambling problem. In our state, counties with casinos saw an increase in violent crimes after the opening of a casino, along with increases in arrests for forgery, fraud, embezzlement and receiving stolen property. When you put all this together, what you see is that the gambling industry harms individuals and families, Wisconsin’s best natural resource.
Beloit doesn’t need a casino. Wisconsin doesn’t need another casino. Governor Evers needs to reject this application and concentrate on figuring out how to reopen Wisconsin for real business, business that builds communities and families and doesn’t destroy them. He needs to not listen to the siren song of more money in the state coffers because that is nothing but an illusion since the public costs of problem gambling significantly outweigh any positive income to the state.
This really shouldn’t be a hard decision for the Governor. If he really cares about the citizens of this state, he will realize how very wrong it is to try to balance the state’s budget on gambling proceeds—a situation that requires the citizens to lose in order for the state to win.
The BIA has taken advantage of the distraction of our people and pushed this casino forward. It’s not the first time they have used times when the people are busily focused on something else to advance this effort. This is just the most recent—and the most dangerous. Now it’s up to Governor Evers to do the right thing for our state and our people. Let’s hope and pray he does. Of all the things Wisconsin needs right now, it is not a casino.
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.