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Meaningful Employment, The Casino Industry
by Randy Williams


August 05, 2004

I am not advocating gaming in Ketchikan but Ken is right, isn't it time to take a look at an industry that will employ as many people as the pulp mill did? With the advantage of sustaining this business long past the cutting of all the useable timber and not tying your jobs to a depleting natural resource.

Certainly it would be foolish not to assume that there could be some individuals that will have a gambling problem. I have members in my family that have that particular malady but I have come to realize that one must look at the overall impact of the industry on the many families that will have a much better life because of the jobs created by virtue of this industry.

So many individuals in the State of Washington have experienced an opportunity to find meaningful employment in and around the many casinos in this State. They now have jobs that will provide enough income to allow them not to wonder how to take their kids to a movie or out to dinner and still pay the rent.

People can cite a few horror stories of individuals losing their savings and in some very isolated instances maybe their homes but I can cite hundreds of cases of dealers we have taught, who have gone from wondering how they would survive and pay their rent, to raising their standard of living to the point where they could actually dream of buying their own home and often do. I see the welfare receipent who is now employed in the casino taken off the welfare roles every day in this industry. I have watched while the young men and women who work in this industry learn that the way to a better life is through a job that actually pays more than they could of made if they worked two jobs and never saw their families. I have seen the minimum wage employee who was barely surviving life, turn into a floor supervisor and wear suits to work and has made a life for his/her family that they couldn't of imagined.

Yes, it is true that I have seen the bad side of this industry as well as the good but the good has created a new standard of living for so many people that it truly is one of the great rewards of being in this industry. It is unfortunate that those rewards are created sometimes at the expense of the one problem gambler but usually and in general the good aspects of gaming are derived because of the individual that realizes that gambling is just a form of entertainment and has set responsible limits on how much they can spend in the casino.

Isn't it time that Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, Fairbanks and some of the larger cities in the state start to look at and create meaningful employment opportunities for their people. I for one see too many homes for sale in Ketchikan, if you don't start creating employment, who will you have to pay the ever increasing taxes and how much higher will you have to raise those same taxes until you can afford to properly sustain the communities needs for water, sewer, electricity,transit, roads and more improtantly education.

Alaska like Hawaii needs to join the rest of the nation and realize that this industry is no longer the dirty little back room parlor card room and is in fact an opportunity for thousands of your unemployed or underemployed citizens to realize meaningful employment.

Finally as a side note and something that is not really relative to this opinion letter but I don't want to write to Sitnews on a daily basis.

I never bash my Corporation Sealaska because I figure the members of Sealaska elect the board of directors and the people have spoken but I have informed Sealaska on several occasions and watched while they have missed what I consider an opportunity in a growing industry for the past 10 years. Perhaps we the Sealaska members, should start to elect individuals that can look beyond the old days and realize that the world is changing and perhaps a few of those elected board members are past the time when they can see those changes. I am not privy to their discussions so I speak somewhat out of turn but I have watched the results since the inception of ANCSA.

I ask Sealaska, if Alaska doesn't see it, at least our board of directors should be considering investment in more than the one casino in San Diego, and never loan money without getting a piece of the percentage. Again, I am not privy to the full deal that was made but this is just standard business procedure in almost all investments in casinos, they borrow money, they must give a percentage to the loaner for a period of 3-7 years. Next time you look at investing in a casino, you the board, may want to talk to some of your Sealaska members that have owned and/or have experience in the casino industry.

I apologize to the other readers who are non-corporation members, who had to read these last few paragraphs.

Randy Williams
Covington, WA - USA


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
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