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Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2000

County residents unite to combat casinos

October 7, 2000

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A group of Douglas County residents aren't waiting for an official casino proposal to come from the Delaware Tribe or anyone else before they say "No."

The 20 or so members of the newly formed Stand-up for Douglas County are seizing the offensive and plan to run newspaper advertisements and circulate petitions in hopes of keeping casinos out of the county.

"We see it as not a fit for Douglas County," said group co-chair Shirley Martin-Smith, a former Lawrence mayor.

Martin-Smith said the nonprofit organization formed in reaction to a proposal by the Delaware Tribe of Indians to build a casino on 80 acres of farmland near the airport.

But the initiative is not limited to this particular idea.

"This is about casino gambling not being good for Douglas County in general," Martin-Smith said. "It wouldn't matter who the proposal came from."

The group members and their advertisements, which start Sunday, are focusing attention on the perceived benefits of casinos and their reality, she said.

"The committee has spent a lot of time researching the impact of gambling on communities," Martin-Smith said.

Sunday's advertisement touches on the perception that casinos bring tourist dollars. According to studies cited by the group, 80 percent of casino revenues come from people who live within a 50-mile radius.

Martin-Smith said the group also has information about crime generated by casinos, tax losses and job losses.

"Casinos tend to take money," Martin-Smith said. "Therefore it is not spent in Douglas County."

Delaware tribal representatives who have put forth the casino proposal were unavailable Friday afternoon at the tribe's Bartlesville, Okla., headquarters for comment.

Group members will circulate petitions Oct. 14 downtown and at large retailers in Lawrence. The petitions will be given to the city and county commissions and sent to the governor.

"It is the governor who has, as we understand it today, the final say," Martin-Smith said.

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