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ALL IN, Part 1 - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

ALL IN, Part 1

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

ust South of the construction site, it's not in a destination spot, but Terry Sims has operated an adult outlet store since 2008 on the corner of 160 & 69. A location originally chosen for it's remote placement.

"There's no children coming out this way," Sims said. "I'm out here in the middle of nowhere. And now they're going to put in a casino and I won't be in the middle of nowhere."

And for the few business owners like Sims, neighboring the development..

"I believe some traffic is gonna come through here," Sims said. "Then I think {entrepreneurs} have a better opportunity at making a living in a legitimate business."

An opportunity to grow his business and see new ones develop. It's an opinion shared and promoted by Pittsburg and Crawford County officials

Besides what the casino and hotel helps develop, just as important is what it could attract. Pittsburg Resident Kathy Ewing is afraid of attracting and encouraging the wrong crowd. 

"Just because it might bring in more revenue? It's more about the quality of life than the revenue.," Ewing said.

As a grandmother of 10, she fears a casino breeding issues which area children couldn't avoid.

"Drug, alcohol, human trafficking, gambling," Ewing said. "I mean, there are so many social issues that a casino will bring to our area that will be devastating to our families."

"The million dollar question is will the job creation, the extra funding, the tax revenue outweigh the costs in terms of social and criminal impacts," Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak said. 

Crime has traditionally been an issue in gaming communities. In Atlantic City the crime rate is nearly three times greater than surrounding county communities, even on a per capita scale. It's something that's also been an issue around the Kansas state-owned casinos.
 
"In speaking with my peers around the state, they have mentioned some issues with prostitution rings.," Peak said.

Prostitution busts have occurred at both Buffalo Run and Downstream Casino, in Miami. Downstream Development Authority Chairman, John Berrey, says it wasn't a symptom of gaming and isn't a legitimate concern for citizens. 

"Social woes are everywhere," Berrey said. "We just try to use our income to combat them the best way we can. and we see by feeding people and offering them hope is the best thing we can do with our revenue."

When it comes to attracting business, Union Gaming estimates Kansas Crossing would draw $30.7-million annually from out of state. Kansas Crossing estimates generating half a million visitors per year. And the county CVB hopes it can use the casino's hotel to leverage more visitors.

"What everybody is looking for is a meeting venue connected to a hotel," Crawford Co. CVB Executive Dir., B.J. Harris said. "And that is something we don't have in this area. Nine times out of ten, when I pick up a bid for a meeting or convention, we're already kind of behind the 8-ball because we don't have that facility that's connected."

In the way of jobs, Kansas Crossing promises 300. A study looking at indian casinos from the University of Maryland said development led to the ratio of available jobs to adults to increase 5-percent. While auto theft, larceny, and bankruptcy increased 10-percent.

It's a question of whether the casino will attract more development, or more social ills. And what citizens will tolerate.

"I just hope and pray we can be a healthy community without more negative impacts," Ewing said. 

"Any money, income that they can make, and i'm quite certain there will be several million off that casino, would really help this county a lot," Sims said. "And this county could use some help."

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