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Gambling Crime is a Non-issue?

The recent embezzling charges within the Lakewood Police Department has me wondering if gambling is a non-issue. A slot machine measure could find itself on the legislative session radar.

"Gambling crime is a non-issue.  Look at all the security cameras they have at casinos."  So goes the oft-heard argument of the pro-gambling crowd. But now this :

"A police officer who served as treasurer of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild was arrested Wednesday and charged with 10 federal felonies related to the alleged embezzlement of more than $120,000 from a fund intended to benefit the families of four Lakewood Police Officers who were killed in the line of duty in November 2009."

The officer is charged with using the money for "trips to Nevada and for cash withdrawals at various casinos.  Some of the cash withdrawals were made at the Bellagio Casino in April 2010, and at the Hawks Prairie Casino in December 2010.  The stolen money was just a portion of more than $3.2 million the public contributed for the benefit of the families of the murdered officers."

And yet gambling is touted by Lakewood officials as the "economic engine" driving the city.  If true, and if this is indeed an isolated incident with said officer, then the "economic engine" just needs a tune-up given we've hit a bump in the economic road we're traveling as a city - lay-offs looming, admitted by Lakewood officials, as in part attributable to Lakewood gamblers staying home."

City officials say they (casinos) can be a terrific source of tax revenue and officials hope casinos will act as economic engines to the neighboring areas along Interstate 5.  Not allowing them to open up would cause more troubles than letting them in" (Business Examiner, August 5, 2002).

"We've never had an entrance to Lakewood to give passers-by a reason to enter - at least for the right reasons," said Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz at the introduction to the new program combining CSOs and Code Enforcement on March 17, 2010.

Well now we can.

Gaudy, blinking "Welcome-to-Las-Lakewood" grand entry lights along I-5 flashing on an in-your-face-blazing, where-the-party-never-ends, billboard beckoning passers-by to Gamble Here!

The recent Lakewood Chamber video, as opposed to the promo featuring a cannon blast, could more prominently show desperate-to-win gambling addicts having a blast - instead of burying the casino segment exactly 60 seconds into the four-minute-plus "Welcome to Our Town."  Since the Chamber is on record as having supported dropping the tax rate on mini-casinos to 11 percent from the previous sliding-scale of 11 to 20 percent - the Chamber's directors saying in a letter to the council "that the sliding tax was unfair and singled out one industry"; and Neiditz having "proposed eliminating the sliding scale gambling tax and replacing it with a flat tax of 11 percent to make it easier to administer and to predict revenues" (TNT, March 14, 2007) - the Chamber directors certainly wouldn't now advocate a rate increase even with the current economic trend - would they?  How could they with Great American Casino's past-chair of the Chamber still on the board of directors?

Certainly the Lakewood Police Independent Guild (with the exception of the treasurer) will support fellow city employees due to receive their pink slips, on a par with the defense of their own jobs for which they literally took to the streets during the gambling war of 2008 - won't they?  Officers could give out tickets - discount tickets to frequent local discotheque/strip clubs which don't currently exist at the casinos but given the "can't legislate morality" mantra of at least one former Lakeowod city councilwoman, why not?

But here perhaps is where all of our efforts need to be focused if we are to save our city, or at least ensure we more quickly return to expanding government and gambling at the same time - lobbying the state legislature.  There, rumor has it, buried somewhere in a larger budget package - as opposed to stand-alone gambling expansion bills which failed in each of three - of the last four - successive years in which they were contemplated in Olympia - is a proposal to install slot machines state wide, a measure which if passed would mean 600 one-armed bandits for Lakewood alone.

And what will Lakewood's Promise leadership do when this slot-machine gambling expansion bill does appear on the radar which it is expected to this legislative session?  Especially when at least one director of this youth program went on record as supporting casinos in 2008 because slots were then non-existent?  Will they capitulate with something catchy like "Help us reach more kids - support slots.  Spend more at the casino!"

All sounds reasonable to me. 

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shannan knight February 10, 2012 at 10:31 PM
So, let me get this straight, Lakewood is welcoming with open arms the gambling establishments that create the kind of behavior for which a Lakewood officer of the law defrauded the families of fallen fellow Lakewood Officers? Establishments who presence in a community cause an increase in theft and robbery, car theft, and shootings, and alcoholism, depression, and suicide, as patrons of those establishments try to get more funds to continue to patronize those establishments. Establishments whose presence increase the problems of suicide attempts occurring in the neighborhood from patrons who sank into total despair after "entertaining themselves" at those establishments. Establishments that may be open 24 hours a day and serving alcohol that also increases these problems in a neighborhood? And supposedly family friendly Lakewood (out of GREED of course) is encouraging and begging for this. Meanwhile they want to put a gate at the back of Tillicum for the military who already has enough problems with military personnel getting too "involved" in these kinds of establishments, and run 18 trains thru the area, (Continued in next comment, shan knight)
shannan knight February 10, 2012 at 10:37 PM
("So let me get this straight" continued) Lakewood is welcoming with open arms the gambling establishments.....which add to the crime, vice, and suicide in an area, and now we are adding in a gate at the back of Tillicum, and 18 plus trains a day on the tracks..........So let's see, more suicide attempts with more trains running for the suicide attempts. (I spent about 20 years in Portland and my bus and max line driver friends told me about the daily track body count that never made the papers.) And add in on top of that the establishment of one armed bandits in all the mini markets etc in the area. That should have over half the town begging for food, cigarettes, etc on the street within 3 days of each pay day. And we have a former Casino head on the board helping herd us in this direction.... A lot of money changing hands somewhere, and it is not going to the down home folks just trying to have a nice community.... Seen this all before, Hate to see it again, Shan Knight

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