Twenty-six members of the Coalition for a Better Fort Wayne marched the halls of the State Capitol. They want law makers to know they oppose a casino in their town.
John Popp, the Chairman of Coalition says “We don’t want anymore, we have enough. Gambling hurts a community, it causes divorce, causes bankruptcy, causes crime.”
They believe a casino in Fort Wayne will hurt the chance of new businesses coming to the city. The group says they are not against gambling, they are against a casino in Fort Wayne.
Popp says “With casinos come massage parlors, prostitution, and crime, so new businesses will not want to relocate in that type of community.”
Charles Walton, a Coalition Member, says “The problems of the city will boil to the surface if we have a casino.”
Melissa Dunning, a Coalition Member, says the group is diverse. “Some of us are religious leaders and are worried about the moral implications. Others, like myself are concerned about the economic development.”
Michael Davis, a Coalition Member, says “I want Fort Wane to be a friendly and safe community and I don’t think a casino will provide that.”
The coalition says there is no need for a referendum, or community vote. Mayor Tom Henry attended the Mayors conference in Indianapolis this month. While there, he spoke directly to legislators asking for a referendum. This has some upset.
Dunning says “He's been down here lobbying in favor of casinos. So he might as well come out and say he's in favor of them.”
Indiana Senator David Long stopped to talk with the group. He told them his feelings on the issue. “Personally I don’t think it fits the Fort Wayne area. I don't.”
State Representative Phillis Pond says as many as 100 lobbyists are working to get gambling in the state budget. The coalition fears if a referendum is given, the community will be persuaded by Casino marketing to vote in favor.
Popp says “They think nothing of spending multi-millions on advertising to convince people in favor of the referendum. Whereas we are a volunteer group. We might raise thousands, 25 or 30 thousand. But they will have millions in advertising.”
The Coalition leaders say even if this does not pass this year, they will fight against it year after year.
The state has a history of passing gambling legislation. The final decision is expected to be made within the next ten days.