A proposal to construct… you guessed it, a new casino, but now in Tyre, NY is meeting resistance with the assistance of national gambling opposition groups including casinofreetyre.com and the Saratogians Against Vegas-Style Expansion, or SAVE. This is in addition to another large project announced in April 2014. Seneca County, where Tyre is located, is in central New York state, a place that likes its rural charm, scenic roads, and rustic venues. The argument being used is the worn and tried, “It will have a negative impact on the image of our community.” Consider this comment from a Seneca County resident.
“What’s it going to foster? Pawn shops, houses of ill repute, drug dealers,” said Richard Barner, 50, who lives nearby on Route 414. “We don’t want any of that here.”
Yes, people still really do talk like that, and it is representative of the strategy anti-casino groups use to thwart casino construction putting pressure on the community to speak up. Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, states in the article that,” Casinos are a failed idea, Bernal said. “It’s being driven by state governments desperate for revenue.” Wilmot Casino and Resort is proposing to build a $350 million casino and resort in Tyre, estimating the creation of 1800 permanent jobs and 1200 construction jobs.
You can be pro balanced state budgets and pro progress, but Tyre is not the place for the casino, even though Wilmot has plunked down the $1 million application fee. As a casino player myself, I usually take the side of the casino builders. But in this case there are several problems.
The first is that 1800 jobs are being created in a town whose total population is about 1000. That means the town itself is not going to be the direct and only beneficiary of the casino. Those other people who will come to Tyre for the jobs will, in effect, be outsiders. This is not Chicago or Boston and we should have a certain respect for the culture of small town people they claim.
Another problem is the potential profitability of the casino in the long term. Looking at the location of Seneca County on a map, I don’t see gamblers flocking there to play, especially when you consider the expanding growth of casinos across New York state. Add to the mix the existing number of casinos on Native American reservations, and it becomes clear that long term profitability is iffy at best.
But the biggest reason to mix the casino is – the residents are right. In this case, it would mar the image of the community, if not the area. Usually, the image argument is used connected to a moral argument – gambling is wrong. Tyre has a large Amish population who are opposed to most things modern and all things related to progress. Hordes of cars and rows of people lining up at newly constructed local restaurants will frighten them and their horses. As was mentioned earlier, some basic respect for the people of the area is definitely in order here.
No, casino construction does not result in the construction of brothels, drug houses, or even pawn shops. The opposition can be seen as culturally living in the 1800’s but that is their right as Americans. They love their quiet environment, simple thinking, and somewhat primitive but relaxing lifestyle.
Wilmot Casino and Resort can be accused of not seriously thinking this site through and properly vetting it. Did it really believe they could financially muscle their way into Tyre without encountering major resistance from the residents themselves? This is one example of attempted construction that gives the industry a bad name. In Tyre and now a number of other locales, Wilmot will be used as a case study of how big money is trying to change the culture and morality of an area by force. Casinos should be built where a majority of the people want them, where the jobs they bring are already needed, and the local and state revenue that sweetens the pie can actually be stomached.
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