Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Official - Sort of

According to the Democrat, the City signed a lease option agreement with the Lane Company to continue their destruction of our bluffs by placing a casino at the bottom of Roth Hill. Although I feel certain that the Lane Company will do a good job, it's still a casino. And casinos are disasters for communities. From the article I wrote about the economic impact of casinos:
"All of the legitimate research that has been done by unbiased economists and other academics show that legalized gambling eventually causes: 1) increased taxes, 2) loss of jobs, 3) economic disruption of other businesses, 4) increased crime, and 5) large social welfare costs for society in general and government agencies."

Not being restrained by facts or research, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen were so excited with themselves today, as they unanimously approved the Mayor signing the deal. It's so sad that the beautiful community of Natchez is reduced to groveling for casinos, prisons, and coal plants. If only we had leadership with vision.

These casino operators know exactly where to go to find unsophisticated (to be kind) politicians. Sixteen years ago, all the City officials were so excited about the economic benefits of the casino coming - so much so that they signed the worse casino deal in the State. Only one problem - the benefits never appeared. In fact, the opening of the casino created a decline in sales and business downtown. Over 70% of businesses reported a decline a year later. Although casinos promised increased tourism, that didn’t happen either. But some people never learn - and unfortunately, they're our elected officials.

There is one small glimmer of hope. The agreement signed today was a lease "option" agreement. The Lane Company has six months to decide if it wants to actually sign a lease with the City. We can dream that perhaps Lane will see the futility of three casinos fighting for business that can barely support one now.

Of course, each of those three casinos thinks that it will be the one left standing after the Battle of the Natchez Casinos. Can you imagine what that Battle's going to be like? Each casino will be offering escalating incentives to get gamblers. More of our downtown entertainment businesses will close, because they won't be able to compete with the casino prices. Our city police officers will be working overtime to combat the crime that always follows gambling. There are already many families in Natchez that have been destroyed by gambling. Now there will be more, and there will be a strain on our City and County to provide the welfare and other social benefits to those devastated families. Those promised economic benefits will never appear to counter our increased costs. so our taxes will have to go up.

Be prepared for the Battle of the Natchez Casinos, because it won't be pretty.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the "crime wave" will be mitigated by the fact that a large percentage of crimes are committed by people ages 18-25. Natchez has fewer people in this age bracket, due to lack of jobs.

On the other hand, perhaps we will get a few casinos, prisons, or coal plants in the area and some of those people might be able to stick around and raise families rather than being forced to move elsewhere. I shudder to think the effect this will have on the crime rate.

Spit Dip said...

I predict the score of the Battle of the Casinos to be 24-7

Anonymous said...

You should change the name of this website to: natcheznaysayers.com

Anonymous said...

If you read the article in the Democrat, it states that the Lane Company has offered to pay a minimum of $1 million per year for the lease, plus a $255,000 per year fund for community development, plus a one time donation of $1 million in addition to the lease payment for the construction of a YMCA or community recreation facility, plus they are going to complete funding for the Trails Project!! AND on top of all of that, they are using over half the site to build a high quality public park, with a boardwalk, and outdoor cafe that everyone in Natchez can enjoy!!

Casey I think you are seeing what you want to see. Here are the facts as I see them:

$1M Donation to the city for recreation facility
$1M minimum lease payment per year
$255k per year to a community development fund
Who knows how much in gaming taxes, sales tax, etc
400 new jobs
New ancillary jobs and services created by casino demands
New public park right on the river
Support for the Natchez Trails project

And let's not lose sight of the fact that we now have a legitimate competitor for the Isle, which should only cause them to increase the quality of their facility.

And heaven forbid they bring in a quality restaurant and buffet that will provide another dining option for locals and tourists.

I don't need to see anymore. I fully support the development of Roth Hill and wish the Lane Company best of luck and can't wait until they are in town full time.

Anonymous said...

For all you people shouting with joy about more gambling boats coming to Natchez...Never forget that when they come 40 to 65 million..(65,000,000) DOLLARS will leave the county!!!!! Boy would i like to trade $10,000,000 the boats may pay out for $40 to $50,000,000 they will take away from our state!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Your math is flawed. If the gaming boats generate $50-60M in revenue, they won't leave town with all of that money. The expenses will come out leaving them with an esitmated collective profit of $12-16M according to articles I've read. The largest part of the expenses will go to salaries for local employees and services provided locally. The gaming taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc make up a large portion of the expenses as well.

So in all actuality, $35-50M will stay in the city. It will go to pay salaries and fill the City coffers to pay for things like education, community development, infrastructure, etc.

You should really think through the numbers and concepts before you post. I think a second casino will be a great benefit to the city.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what future many of you see for Natchez. This over-the-top resistance to so many things going on in town is baffling. There is no greater fan of Natchez than I. I promote this city where ever I go to whom ever will listen. It is in my opinion Natchez is the greatest city in Mississippi for both its architecture and culture. I hate driving downtown and seeing the likes of the court house annex or the 1960's post office, however, if all your resistance succeeds, I fear that Natchez' future looks more like Rodney's and less like Madison's and Oxford's. You must realize that there is a certain amount of reason we have to adopt. A hotel on the block bordered by Main, Broadway, Franklin, and Canal is better that the equipment yard and several tacky buildings that were once there. A condo complex on the run-down, north end of the bluff is better than the eye sore that was the pecan factory. Have you though for a moment that the condos could spur development that would replace the other eye sores on that end of Broadway? As for Roth Hill the park that Lane has proposed will be much better than the inaccessible kudzu hole that existed ten years ago. It just seems than anything that anyone tries to do downtown is meet with criticism. I'm sure that someone is upset about the Natchez Democrat's proposed new facility, or the new court house, as there are people that are trying to stop Fat Mama's. Now, let me be clear if the city was proposing to build a liquor store in place of the gazebo, I would riot, but so far there is no evidence that the city is trying to do anything but promote development and renovation of a run-down unused street. Are you saying that you wish Broadway remained just as it is? Just remember the story of Rodney, a bustling town that was almost the capital of the territory, home to Mississippi's first opera house, and a bank that had been capitalized at over a million dollars by 1850, but when the railroad tried to come trough in the 1870's the citizens voted against it. Why? Maybe the people Rodney thought it would change the town's future too drastically, well they were correct.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the last posting.

New developments are needed - money spent on them helps everyone and increases the tax base. Natchez has good zoning and preservation restrictions, these should be followed, and have been with all the proposed new developments. Early proposed designs were often not appropriate and were changed to get planing approval.

The new hotels will be an asset to Natchez. Natchez has lacked modern "name brand" hotels which made many potential tourists pass us by. The lack of good hotels led to an increase in hotel rates from the better but often substandard hotels. Natchez lodging rates are the more expensive than our competitors. The proposed new casinos will have to attract new clients - The Isle customers are 90% local - The casinos will either divide the existing gamblers three ways and all become unprofitable and result in failures of potentially all the casinos or work to market Natchez as a casino destination. The consultant that The Lane Company hired said that Natchez could not support a second casino. She showed that most of the gamblers were local, and Natchez had strong competition from better casinos in Vicksburg, Tunica and the on the coast. She also showed studies that the typical casino customer is not interested in historic buildings or museums. The average casino customer is more likely to be interested in NASCAR than anything that Natchez has to offer. The local gamblers can't afford to spend any more than they do now - Time will tell if the new casinos can prove the consultant wrong. I hope for the new hotel developers they do. Casinos can be good for a community in providing new tax revenue - but they have to bring people from outside the community to be truly beneficial.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the anonymous comment made on 7/21. For those of us who have lived our entire life in Natchez, this constant attempt to stop ANY and ALL progress is very frustrating. And most of the time the people voicing the most dissent aren't even originally from here, and probably won't stay. Natchez has to develop to survive....downtown has to be part of that development if it is going to survive. I remember in the not so distant past when downtown looked almost like a ghost town- no business of Commerce, very little on Franklin, etc. It is great to see hotels being built, the Convention Center doing well, etc. The same people who are naysayers on this blog didn't want the Convention Center either...said it would "ruin" Natchez. Well, guess what folks? We are not only still here, Natchez is booming. So please, if you don't like progress...MOVE!!!

Anonymous said...

I too agree whole heartedly with the last few comments. Natchez needs to weed out all of the negativity. It brings everyone down. We must develop. We must grow. Out with the old ways of thinking and in with the new. Preserve what is worthy but does not slow progress. We need a strong progressive agenda and a few less tree huggers. Load them up and move them out. Amen.