Monday, February 18, 2008

Viva Las Flint

I'm surprised it took the local braintrust this long to come up with this particular far-fetched plan to save Flint — Indian casinos.

"I think we have a 50-50 chance of getting it," Mayor Don Williamson told The Flint Journal. Williamson dispatched adviser Joe Conroy to Washington, D.C. last week to lobby those connected to legislation that would bring a casino to either Flint or Romulus.

A bill is expected to be voted on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow a casino to be established by the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians.
There's only one problem: casinos tend to suck more money out of the local economy than they put into it. Philadelphia City Paper lays out the numbers:

During their yearlong study, professors William N. Thompson and Ricardo C. Gazel of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found that Illinois loses $6.7 million to casinos each year which otherwise would have been spent on local businesses. The sum does not include regulatory and infrastructure costs, or social costs.

In addition, the study found that areas closest to casinos suffered the most. The study also determined that riverboat casinos do not promote tourism, noting that 84 percent of Illinois gamblers live in-state. By comparison, Las Vegas attracts 85 percent of its gamblers from out-of-state.

Of course, look how Detroit has magically transformed itself into a safe, economically robust city with the help of casinos.

That was a little joke.


  1. Anyone who believes that Flint's future lays at the side of a roulette wheel are sadly mistaken.
    The truth is what Flint needs, and likely won't see, is a return to its manufacturing roots. That's what its people are trained to do and what would actually pay a living wage.
    But a roll of the dice won't save the city.

  2. I can't see casino's helping Flint, but as dark as Flint's future is, can it hurt? I mean, like the song goes,"tears on a river, blue on black, it don't mean a thing"...

  3. I have to admit my first reaction was similar to Matt's. I mean why not give it a try. Things can't get much worse. But the more I read, the more it seems like casinos in non-tourist places like Flint and Detroit just take in money that probably would have been spent in the area anyway. It's the same with sports stadiums...they tend to earn money that would have been spend locally anyway. And I worry about the social cost of providing a new vice for a city that already has its share of vices.

  4. I've never really enjoyed gambling, so I'm biased, but why not pump money into local small businesses instead? Let people spend their disposable income there instead.

  5. Just another hairbrain idea of that idiotic mayor! Yeah let's put in casinos and make alot of people gamling-oholics...the bank robberies will go up just like that did in the Detroit area. The home invasions will go up as well as other robberies.



Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at