Operating a law firm in Miami, J. Ken Gallon says gaming has been good for his business.
Specifically.. bankruptcy law.
"Close to 30 percent of my business is because of gambling debt," Gallon said.
Gallon couldn't say whether the bankruptcies associated with gambling were a direct result of the multiple casinos in Oklahoma.
"Nationally, the bankruptcies are way down across the nation," Gallon said. "But my business has increased, and increases every year."
A report from the University of Massachusetts on behalf of it's National Association of Realtors chapter states if a casino doesn't draw a significant portion of it's business from outside the local population, the loss of residential income offsets much of the earned capitol.
"Those who want to game that are in our community are currently gaming already. They just go to another casino. Typically in another state," Pittsburg Economic Development Dir. Blake Benson said. "So I think keeping our local residents close to home is always one of our goals."
Another goal.. keeping locals employed. Kansas Crossing promises 300 jobs from it's development, alone. Pittsburg lost roughly 100 jobs in "service providing industries" in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"That all has a ripple effect.Vvery significant numbers, things to get excited about, and a great opportunity," Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said. Adding the city won't drop it's current economic plan to build exclusively around the casino, but is optimistic at the projected half a million visitors per year along with the boost to the job market.
"Anybody that tries to create jobs for a living would think that 300 jobs is significant," Hall said.
And when looking at the positives effects casinos can have, Benson says gaming attracts ancillary business like retail and restaurants.
"And this would help us develop, not only the Kansas Crossing site," Benson said. "But really, several different sites between the city of Pittsburg and the Kansas Crossing Development."
Salvation Army Major Gary Gugala says he understands the attraction of casinos. But still doesn't want one in Pittsburg.
"There's no way the cost of a few jobs are really gonna help our economy," Gugala said. "In fact, it's gonna make more of a mess."
The Salvation Army works in social services. Gugala says gambling is something the group deals with daily.
"The real cost of gambling is the destruction of families," Gugala said. "And also those that are poor are very susceptible to the get-rich-quick mantra that the casinos advertise."
Byy law, 2-percent of Kansas Crossing's revenue would go to gambling addiction programs. Another 3-percent of it's yearly revenue will go to Crawford and Cherokee counties, along with the city of Pittsburg.
"The first couple of years of any money that we see from the casino that comes to the city will go to our reserve funds until they're at a level that we feel is adequate," Hall said. "And then at that point it's just gonna go to providing services. Police, and fire, and a parks system that people can be proud of."
How much gaming revenue could the area expect with a competitive four-states casino market? Union Gaming projects $39-million in a year by 2019. Even the competition at Downstream believes there's room for another casino.
"For the Southern Kansas City market, I think it's a viable opportunity. I think there's some untapped revenue for Crawford County and I think it's a good location from our perspective."
And Gallon.. he hopes Pittsburg gets more from it's brush with gaming than his clients have from theirs.
"They generally lose everything they have and more," Gallon said. "They don't stop until they have absolutely nothing."
Gaming analyst Cummings and Associates predicts 23-percent of Kansas Crossing's revenue to come from outside 100 miles of the site. And job growth is expected to impact neighboring Wilson, Neosho, Montgomery, and Labette counties.
A Kansas Crossing spokesperson released a statement in response to this story reading, in part, "When Kansas Crossing is delivered it will have a positive impact throughout the region. It will employ about 300 Kansans, attract more visitors to the region, provide millions of dollars in revenue annually to state and local governments and more."
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