Proposed bills bring up more than gaming in certain areas

Published 10:55 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2007

By Staff
Letter to the Editor
To the Editor:
Senate Bill 333 and House Bill 527 seeking additional gaming at the Mobile and Birmingham dog tracks requires a discussion beyond gaming and dog tracks. Let me begin by illuminating an error in the bill. The bill states "Jefferson and Mobile Counties, …, are the two principal centers of tourism in Alabama." Since this argument is key to the train of logic used in the bill, let me address it. As stated in The Decatur Daily from May 12, 2005, "Despite the loss of many of its condos and hotels for several months, Baldwin County remained the state's largest tourist magnet, generating $1.99 billion in revenue, nearly twice the amount of second place Jefferson County."
While I am not an economist how does a county generate almost twice the amount of tourism revenue of its nearest competitor and not be considered a "principal center(s) of tourism in Alabama?" The point of this bill is not to help the economy of Alabama or of Mobile and Birmingham but to secure Milton McGregor's financial well being.
In Atmore the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is attempting to create an economic revolution to invigorate Escambia and surrounding counties. As to the taxes generated, will a few machines in two seedy dog tracks truly generate more tax revenue than a growing and dynamic entertainment center in the Atmore area? With golf, restaurants, gaming and peripheral entertainment the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' plan will offer a true tax base. Resorts with gaming in other rural locales notably Philadelphia and Tunica, Mississippi have brought those areas from the depths of economic disparity while generating a windfall. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has a great vision for our home, yet it would seem Senator Pat Lindsey is blind to the needs of his constituents by introducing Senate Bill 333.
Does the viability of two dog tracks outweigh the economic future of Escambia and surrounding counties? Yes, if the owner of those tracks has the wealth to control the legislative process. Milton McGregor seeks to use government to remove free market competition against his tracks. Are we in France where government props up unviable enterprise? Does gaming in Atmore threaten these tracks? Unless, Atmore has a plan for a dog track I think not. Also, the well documented mistreatment of the greyhounds has been forgotten or ignored. Let us not be blinded or distracted by religious calls or false economic claims from the true purpose of this legislation, to fatten Milton McGregor's pockets.
Alex Jones

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