Rivers Casino Gambling…Panacea…or Paranoia!
A few years ago, its proponents waged a vigorous campaign to have gambling legalized in Pennsylvania. The advanced the argument that neighboring states which have legalized gambling were draining wagering money from Pennsylvania.
While pushing for legalized gambling, proponents also set their sights on having a gambling casino in Pittsburgh. When gambling was legalized, the prophesied that many of the state’s financial problems would be solved. Taxes from legalized gambling was one of the selling points its supporters advanced.
When the proposal to build a casino in Pittsburgh was approved, a battle was waged as to who would get the license to operate the facility. As you might remember, there were three major applicants fighting for the license.
As you may also remember, Don Barden was awarded the license, much to the surprise of most observers since he was not one of the favorites! Barden launched his efforts to build the casino on the North Shore and planned to operate it. However, he fell on hard times financially and lost the license which is now held by Holdings Gaming Borrower LP.
In its early days, Rivers Casino, the chosen name, was limited to slot machines. Table games came into the picture later. It should be noted that the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County offered stiff competition to Rivers Casino.
For many years Las Vegas and Atlantic City dominated the gambling market. Since then, gambling operations have proliferated into many states. It is interesting to note that there are now 41 casinos in the northeast with 20 more planned.
The big question is…how the gambling pie will be cut up. There are just so many people who gamble and the question is…where will they go to spend their money? Responding, the casinos are offering many lures to attract their clientele.
Looking at the local picture…unfortunately, one year after its grand opening, Rivers Casino is performing woefully short of its own revenue projections. As of August 1, it celebrated one year of operation and grossed $217 million. Projections were that they would gross at least $427 million. Needless to say, those people who thought that legalized gambling would solve all our financial problems are now facing reality.
Many of the gambling casinos are seeing their revenues decline and the hope is that won’t happen here. In our opinion, in the final analysis, gambling is not the answer to our financial woes. It’s not a panacea. Instead, let’s call it like it is…part of the planners’ “pretty picture paranoia!”
Robert W. Dickey
Could it be that an industry merely wanted an opportunity. When did the states demand that the coal, auto, oil/gas, steele manfacturers, etc. promise to solve the financial problems of the state before being permitted to do business??-
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