Monday, March 2, 2009

Underwhelming ideas

I haven't really had a take on the casino idea. I think Griftdrift said it best, though, when he said we were a half-ass city:
... instead of changing the state law which prevents casino gambling, Atlanta is exploring using a loophole in the lottery law which allows video gambling machines -and not even those poor pitiful video poker machines, but some half-ass lottery spewing chimera...

... we don't understand the concept of all-in. We'd rather cautiously play a little here and a little there - never making that breath gasping push. And every poker player of any skill knows the inevitable result of this strategy - no money left and out of the game.
I'm luke-warm to the idea of casinos at best, but not for the typical "negative social externalities" reason. I have repeatedly suggested that expanding GSU's student housing to Underground would be far better for the city overall. I think a casino would bring in a lot of money and something else to do, but I would be very concerned about the architectural design of the actual casino. I would not be supportive of a Portman-esque design which keeps people inside and away from the rest of the city. Given the business of casinos, I would most likely be disappointed.

That is my feeling about casinos under optimum circumstances. This half-ass idea does NOT get me excited. The news that the City Council is supportive of this idea is mildly disappointing. I guess I don't expect them to do anything different, but I had rather hoped this idea would not amount to much. What councilmember would reasonably vote against any sort of economic development for Underground?

Why do all the bad ideas seem to stick around?

Also, I find it slightly ridiculous that the City Council and the Mayor can support this all they want, but at the end of the day we have zero control over what happens downtown. Consider how many things the city of Atlanta wants to do where we do not control our own destiny:
  • BeltLine - had to get a constitutional amendment to secure funding, still hoping for state and federal funding.
  • Undergound casino - need approval of state lottery corporation or constitutional amendment to allow gambling
  • Commuter rail/multi-modal terminal - awaiting state and federal funding
  • Center for Civil and Human Rights - probably the only thing we can actually do, but we still needed that constitutional amendment for the TAD funding.
  • MARTA improvements - needed recent law to change operational budget funding, still need state funding

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