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The Truth About Casinos And Crime – What To Expect For Danville, Virginia And Southside – Mike Swanson

Land is being cleared in Danville, Virginia for a Caesar’s casino, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2024. Citizens of Danville voted for the casino to come two years ago. There were campaigns for and against the casino going into the vote. The people against it had arguments of different quality. At the bottom of the barrel were people who were just making things up to try to scare people.

As far as what I would consider to be high quality arguments, even though I don’t agree with them, would be people like Johnny Robertson and his son Caleb, who run the Church of Christ and were against the casino on the basis of their religious beliefs. Caleb was against the casino just as someone would be against a bar selling alcohol. He didn’t make things up or have to engage in crazy exaggerations to make his arguments, because he made clear that they were based on his own view of what he thinks is right and wrong behavior.

The most prevalent argument at the time against it was that the casino would bring more crime. Much of that was exaggerated, with a picture drawn by those most vocal about being against the casino on social media at the time making it sound like people would become so addicted to gambling that they would commit crimes to get money like some drug fiends do and the whole city would turn into Atlantic City, which was a crime ridden place before the casinos were event built there.

It is easy to just dismiss such arguments and there is a lot more good the casino will bring than bad, in my opinion. The casino is going to bring over fifteen hundred jobs and and thousands of visitors to the area every week and the Caesars company is already starting to promote Danville to people staying in all of its hotel rooms.

I’m excited about the casino coming and what it will bring, however, it is true that the casino will increase some of the crime in Danville and it could bring changes that no one has foreseen, anything new will do that.

And it isn’t just in Danville where this is going to happen. A few weeks ago Piedmont Community College held a symposium about the impact that the casino would have on Caswell County and Yanceyville at which Steven Gould, whose law firm is doing some work for Caesar’s, spoke. According to a press release put out by the college, “The community anticipates that several major roadways in Caswell County will see increased traffic as travelers pass through to get to the resort which will include a casino, hotel, convention center, and restaurants within just a few miles of the border that separates Caswell County from Virginia. Gould mentioned in his presentation that there will be an increased need in surrounding areas for gas stations, restaurants, accommodations, housing, and more. Bobe indicated that her office would be interested in co-marketing business efforts with local businesses and organizations in Caswell.”

Is Yanceyville ready for more traffic going up and down route 86?

I remember in Danville once they turned route 41 into a two lane road suddenly every once in awhile some nut would go speeding down it.

A writer for Cardinal News interviewed people in cities that got a casino and asked them for advice to give to people in Danville.

They talked about how the city started to collect a lot more revenue, because of the casino, how it’s best for city officials and casino management to work as a team, and how it brings more people to their area. West Memphis got a casino and has a population of 24,000 people. The casino attracts 20,000 – 30,000 people a week, with 70% of them coming from out of town.

And that does mean more crime. “If you double the number of people in your town, it doubles the number of people who do things they shouldn’t do. It would be malpractice to not increase police security out by the casino,” explained an advisor in the West Memphis Mayor’s office.

I just read an interesting book about the boom in Las Vegas in the 1950’s. That was the ground floor time for casinos in Vegas and the population of the city grew from 24,000 people to 64,000 in that decade. The book notes that crime did go up during this decade in Vegas, but it didn’t happen because people got addicted to gambling and then went and committed crimes to keep gambling. Instead, as a Captain in the Sheriff’s Department is quoted in the book, it came from “transient criminals who swarm into this desert resort area from all over the United States.”

If you build anything that attracts thousands of new people into the area that come and go that is going to bring a few bad people that think they can commit a crime of opportunity and get away with it, perhaps thinking no one will know who they are. It happens in any tourist area, such as Myrtle Beach or Walt Disney World or at any event that can attract a large number of people, like a rock concert. But that isn’t a reason to be scared. When the rock festival came to Pittsylvania County last year there were people who said that they feared that there would be people coming to the area all drugged out acting crazy and one person said they even thought people could be killed in mosh pits, and nothing like that happened as a result of the hard rock music.

The police can handle it.

Don’t be shocked if Yanceyville police issue more tickets to discourage speeders.

Let me bring up another way casinos impacted Las Vegas.

That city experienced several decade long waves of growth beyond the 1950’s.

In the 2000’s it’s population grew by 85% and in 2001 film producer Paul Jay went to Vegas and did a documentary titled Lost In Las Vegas in which he used the city as a metaphor for the entire country, growing more obsessed with making money. He describes the movie this way:

“Lost in Las Vegas tells the story of Canadians Wayne Catania and Kieran Lafferty, who take their Blues Brothers act to Las Vegas and audition for the famous Legends impersonators show. This begins an Alice in Wonderland journey through Vegas as they decide if they want to live and raise families in a city whose only value is making money. Along the way, they meet local people from strippers to historians to Afro-American activists to the impersonators of Little Richard, Elvis and Tom Jones. They tell Wayne and Kieran about life and living in Las Vegas. Our protagonists return to Canada awaiting the results of the audition. At this point, the film turns on itself, and another layer of fantasy is explored and subjects are left wondering whats real about their own lives. Finally, our characters return to Vegas where they must face a truth about themselves and the city of dreams. Vegas is the place where the American soul is most naked and extreme. It is America as a stripper, Lady Liberty wearing nothing but beads and feathers. Is it a bizarre distortion of American values, or is Vegas the shape of things to come?”

In 2001, when this movie came out, the internet stock market bubble was deflating in a bust. A few years later real estate became a bubble.

Now we are seeing perhaps another bubble deflating this year in the financial markets, following several years in which people trading the stock market like wild gamblers talked of stocks as “stonks” and considered virtual currencies and virtual art to be as worthwhile as real world investments and the “Metaverse” became a concept that captured the imagination of some.

Danville isn’t going to become Las Vegas once the casino is built.

I’d suggest that what is depicted in the Lost In Las Vegas movie is what the internet has become since then too – much of it a lost world of unreality – and the make money at all costs spirit permeates it and places like Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and K Street in Washington, D.C.

Danville won’t become like any of those places, because even with the casino, and even with the possibility of even more big employers coming in the next few years, it still will remain small enough to have the small town community feel to it. The same is true of Caswell County, Halifax, and Martinsville.

A lot of people don’t want this Metaverse thing and want to get out of the big city.

Tell them to come here!

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-Mike