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Glenn Grothman Release on His Opposition to Menominee Casino

by Jerry Bader

Glenn and I debated this when I was on his show last week. Glenn is a rock solid conservative, but this argument is based entirely on his personal opposition to gambling. Indian gaming exists in Wisconsin. I don't believe Scott Walker should pick the winners and losers  here any more than Barack Obama should pick winners and losers in the energy market. Glenn's right; a lot of people pee away there money on gambling. Many don't. Like any other pastime that some see as a vice, I'm not going to try to prohibit it because some people can't control themselves. But here's Glenn's argument:

Grothman Stands with Governor Walker on Casino


: I applaud Governor Walker for clearly wanting to go slow on the proposed new Menomonee casino in Kenosha.  Some conservatives seem to have fallen for the idea that a new casino must be supported because it constitutes economic development.  It is useful to remember that it was not long ago that virtually all gambling was banned in the state of Wisconsin as a social ill.  Conservatives have traditionally been against gambling.  It is the same reason drugs and prostitution are banned and payday loan stores should be banned – it takes advantage of peoples’ weaknesses to harm their lives.


Recently, it was reported the Potawatomi casino takes in over $350 million a year – over $200 per resident in the five county region.  (I realize many gamblers are not from the area and many residents from the area gamble somewhere else.)  Several years ago an unauthorized memo was distributed claiming that $1 billion was lost statewide in casinos – about $200 per resident.  Predictably, studies show that the type of people who sit and lose money in these mindless slot machines are poorer than average and I’m sure are less financially savvy than most people. 


The Potawatomi casino is a black hole – not so much as a gas station has sprung up next to the biggest tourist attraction in the Milwaukee area.  It is unknown what else would have happened with these dollars – restaurants, retail outlets, better homes – anything would have been an improvement.  And, of course some undisciplined people lose everything.  Wisconsin’s gambling hotline shows the average caller has run up a huge debt. 


Now people want another mega-casino thirty miles south.  Some of the gamblers will undoubtedly come from Potowatomi’s customers and some will come from Illinois.  But, is there any doubt they will grab well over another $100 million in disposable income from gullible Wisconsin residents?


I felt one of the worst legacies of Governor Doyle was his deal with the casinos.  In 2003, he was unwilling to do something like Act 10, requiring public employees to pay part of their pensions and instead decided to expand gambling in the state and make it permanent.  In essence, Governor Doyle took advantage of the most vulnerable Wisconsinites by balancing the budget with gaming revenues, rather than standing up to his friends, the public employee unions.  Republicans should be better. 


A strong economy comes from manufacturing and technology, not casinos.  When I think of casinos, I think of the massive MGM Grand built in Detroit in 2007 as “economic development” or Atlantic City, two places that rolled the dice on gambling to abysmal results.  These are obviously dying cities run by economic illiterates.  We do not want Kenosha County to become the Hammond, Indiana of the North.  Governor Walker should stay the course of encouraging legitimate businesses in Wisconsin.