Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More Philly Corruption

If you read the Daily News or Inquirer, you've heard about the saga of State Senator Michael Stack. The Philadelphia lawmaker has become embroiled in a controversy involving the sale of land to be possibly used for a casino.
The firm, Beach Street Corp., paid $100,000 for state water rights to part of a 46-acre tract it previously owned in Fishtown and later optioned the land and water rights to Ameristar Casinos Inc. for $37 million.

The 2003 transaction sparked a controversy in Harrisburg early this month after it was discovered that the House and Senate passed a bill allowing Beach Street Corp. to buy the rights at a reduced price. At the time, the company was owned by Stack's father, four of Stack's brothers and sisters, and developer James J. Anderson. Another Anderson company, Dyott Corp., also participated in the deal.
Personally, I am opposed to the use of gambling to raise money for government services. I guess I support people's right to throw their money away, but I don't think it is a solution to the long term budget problems that all cities and states seem to be facing right now. It seems like a easy way to generate some revenue, but it's actually not a zero-sum equation. Legalized gambling leads to all kinds of things, particular greater addiction. The state will have increase funding for certain social service programs to deal with the negative side effects of gambling.

The real point of this story is how nothing can ever be done simply for the benefit of the taxpayers. Stack (who ever heard of him before this story) and other legislators always want to figure out how to get an edge.


At 4:16 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

I agree with your general thoughts on gambling... Making ourselves dependent on an effective tax on those who cannot generally afford it does not sit well with me. Slot machines are not attracting high rollers dropping $50,000 on a night of blackjack; they are draining money from those who cannot really afford it.

And, as you say, this is not a revenue neutral proposition. This is even more so when outside companies are chosen to own the Casinos, rather than have the State own them with a private company simply running them.


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