Casino Impact on a City

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

As voters in Wausau get ready to hit the polls and vote on whether they want a casino in their city, NewsChannel 7 went to a city that already has a casino to take a look at the positive and negative impact.

The Oneida Bingo and Casino is located on the Oneida Reservation just outside the Green Bay city limits. The multi-million dollar complex includes a Raddison hotel, a convention center and a taste of Vegas, Wayne Newton and other big name acts bring in sold out crowds.

"Certainly they would like to win, but most of all I think it's for the entertainment,” said Eric McLester, a gaming manager for the Oneida Bingo and Casino.

"We have people coming probably within a 120-mile radius on a regular basis. We do have tour buses coming in,” McLester added.

Now a hot spot for tourists, the gaming Mecca has also introduced 5,000 new jobs.

"They have had the opportunity to generate significant jobs directly related to the casino and those indirect jobs in the hospitality industry,” said Green Bay Mayor Paul Jadin.

The tribe gives the city payments equal to property taxes, but does it help the pocketbook for taxpayers?

"The benefit to our community is the impact on our economy and not a direct tax benefit,” Jadin added.

What about crime connected to the casino?

"It is difficult to make a relationship between general crime in the city and connecting it in anyway to the casino,” said Green Bay Police Chief James Lewis.

But some people say one quarter slipping into a slot can lead to trouble. At the Wisconsin Counsel on Problem Gambling, counselors take calls almost daily from Green Bay gamblers.

"Certainly the accessibility can lead to increased problems or increased number of people trying it,” said Rose Gruber, the executive director at the Wisconsin Counsel on Problem Gambling.