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No thanks, we’ve lost enough


Very impressive, the way the voters of Dallas, Madison and Warren counties turned down the casino proposal.

Maybe it was easier for them than it would be for people in more rural parts of the state, where there has to be some mild panic about the economic future. Ottumwa, for example, has needed to get something going for a long time.

Here in Central Iowa, where major projects seem to sprout up every month, you can live anywhere within a fairly large area and still feel that you’re part of a going concern – even if you don’t want to merge with the city where so many of those key projects stand.

Or maybe the big-idea phase is ending around here, and people are getting tired of signing up for somebody else’s dreams. A luxury resort and casino sounded exciting, but it also sounded like one man’s fantasy. Wealthy individuals seem to go through that phase as a matter of course. It’s much more fulfilling to drive people past marble, glass and lights than to show them your financial statements.

Didn’t John Ruan once talk about building an 80-story office tower downtown? And aren’t we better off without that, too?

But the most satisfying explanation of all would be that Central Iowans know when to say when. You can argue all day about how Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino is operated and how the money is disbursed, but the most important issue is the gambling itself.

A modest-sized metropolitan area such as Greater Des Moines can absorb a small amount of gambling. It’s like a rural neighborhood where one farm has a few hogs. But if the number of casinos starts to grow, it’s like finding yourself among several major hog operations; the atmosphere changes.

We’re draining enough money from people who can’t resist the thrill of gambling, or gaming as the casino industry prefers to call it. (That’s a warning sign right there, when you start to hear euphemisms instead of the real word.)

With the rejection of a casino and an overwhelming defeat for the merger idea, it might seem as if we’re standing still. But sometimes you have to wait for a better deal or simply say, “No thanks, we have enough.”

The metro area needs to keep planning and dreaming, but that doesn’t mean we have to jump on every idea that comes along.

The rain forest was going to be downtown at one point. We’ll do all right without that, too.

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