The hasty rush to approval for a new Falcons stadium in Atlanta has both a bad odor and a hidden agenda.
The bad odor came from forcing an early vote from the Atlanta city authorities on a complex issue which they have had little time to study the details. True, the concept has been around for some time, but the specifics seem to keep shifting like desert sand. There is no way an informed vote can be taken this week, let alone making an intelligent decision on such an important issue for our whole region. Even the commitment of Atlanta funds, most recently $200 million, has burgeoned to several times that amount later.
Why, then, this rush to judgment? Speaking as someone who has seen the intrusion of legalized gambling casinos, first in Atlantic City, N.J., and then in Connecticut, I can project the likelihood that the hundreds of millions of dollars of tax funds needed for the new stadium will not materialize, particularly given other vast tax needs and likely revenue shortfalls.
Then, as in other states, there will be a major push to make up the tax shortfall through legalized gambling casinos in the greater Atlanta area, and perhaps even in other parts of Georgia. This will supposedly be in order to generate the public funds needed to build the proposed new Falcons stadium. This game plan has occurred often.
Thus, vastly expanded legalized gambling (the industry prefers the term “gaming”) will be the end result of the proposed new Falcons stadium, and history will repeat itself once more.
Of course, a gullible public will be told that jobs will be created, and that since gambling is voluntary it really hurts no one. The increased costs for police protection and other security, the increased number of gambling addicts, and the inevitable increase in criminal behavior, of course will not be mentioned.
The new Falcons stadium proposal is indeed “the camel’s head in the Georgia tent,” and the rest of the camel, the demand for casinos, will inevitably follow.
Eugene F. Elander