Home > Political Animal > Hedging his bets

Hedging his bets

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2008-12-23


“We are living in difficult, and for far too many, desperate economic times.”

With those words, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry launched into a carefully worded explanation of his stance on a potentially highly-charged issue for the city: casino gambling in Fort Wayne.

Reportedly, several companies (no one will confirm the actual number) are pitching plans to build a casino in Fort Wayne. At least one of those proposals calls for a gaming operation in the heart of downtown. Setting aside for a moment any moral qualms about gambling, with the promise of jobs, additional dollars for the financially strapped City budget, and major investment in downtown - all without the need for public tax dollars - you’d think one of these gaming proposals would be an easily done deal. The problem is that state law currently does not allow for a casino in Fort Wayne.

That could change in the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly. State lawmakers are expected to hear a proposal by Hoosier Park, which wants to move hundreds of video slot machines from its gaming facility in Anderson to Fort Wayne. In effect, the company’s existing off-track betting (OTB) facility would become a casino-lite.

But that has other casino operators suggesting that instead of dipping its toes into the gambling waters, the city should seek approval of a full casino license.

In his statement, Mayor Henry promises only to listen to the various proposals and to do independent research on the pros and cons of expanding gaming in the city.

ELO (Electric Light Ordinance)

Fort Wayne City Council has approved, and Mayor Henry has signed into law, a measure making “light pollution” a violation of city ordinance. The goal is to cut down on glaring bright lights that bother neighbors.

How does the City plan to enforce such an ordinance? No one has shed much light on that question. Mayor Henry has recommended that council members re-examine the issue with possible amendments.

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