A proposed casino at Rockaway Beach in southwest Missouri is a bad idea by any definition. A Minneapolis casino developer is betting $5 million of his own money that he can convince the Governor, Legislature and local residents that a casino is the recipe for their faulty economy. I think it's a bad bet on his part.
Missouri has sufficient casinos in enough locations throughout the state to adequately serve the gaming public. But there's a limit to everything and we need no more casinos regardless of their location. To compound the problem by proposing a Lake of the Ozarks region casinos makes no sense.
Southwest Missouri is indeed a family-oriented area that boasts some of the major tourist attractions in the state. There are ample tourists who travel to that section of the state to enjoy the entertainment and natural beauty. Rockaway Beach is a beautiful section of that region. It would be spoiled forever with the arrival of a multi-million casino regardless of the jobs it may promise or the economic recovery is may forecast.
The plan for a new casino probably is doomed from the beginning. For starters, Gov. Bob Holden has rightfully said he opposes any new casinos. And the Legislature is lukewarm to the idea even in the face of a tough economy. Finally, the residents of that area may well oppose the idea as well.
I have long supported gaming casinos in Missouri for their economic and entertainment value. Our state budget would be in dismal shape right now without the gaming revenues. It's in bad enough shape regardless. But despite this support for casinos, that doesn't mean I could support unlimited expansion of the industry. Just the opposite is actually true. I think in some ways Missouri has too many casinos. But that's another story for another day.
For now we need to enjoy the beauty of the lakes' region and leave it untarnished by a glitzy gaming hall. Sometimes, decisions are made for reasons other than dollars and cents.