Letter to the Editor

Guest Editorial

Friday, July 30, 2004

Here's what some others are saying about Amendment 1

Setting the record straight

There has been a lot said about Amendment 1 recently, from both op-position and proponents of the issue. Since we are the founding members, we'd like to set the record straight.

Amendment 1 will give the city of Rockaway Beach the chance to be the location of a license from the Missouri Gaming Commission for a riverboat casino on the White River in Southwest Missouri. This will change the Missouri Constitution so that gaming can be expanded to only one location beyond the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

Beyond this, we would like to clear up misunderstandings about how this project came about and what it will mean for Rockaway Beach, Southwest Missouri and the state.

* The idea for bringing the riverboat casino to Rockaway was the initiative of the people of this town. We actively sought out a developer and found Jim Druck of Southwest Casino and Hotel Corp. He later brought the majority shareholder and operator, Robert Low of Springfield, Mo., to the table. Low is a home-grown success story, and he's a nice guy to boot. We are fortunate to have them both.

* This is not an idea that simply came out of the blue. The people of this town have been seeking a variety of solutions for years. We've tried to attract manufacturers. We've come up with various festivals and events to bring tourists to our town. When it wasn't enough, we put our heads together and developed this plan to bring a riverboat casino and downtown development to our area.

* In the beginning, few people in state had even heard of Rockaway Beach. Because of the way the constitution is written, we need to ask people throughout the state for the chance to implement our plan and bring a riverboat casino to our community. The more people know about Amendment 1, the more likely they are to support it. We have been working very hard to share our story. This has obviously taken a great amount of time, effort and money.

* While the riverboat casino will benefit the people of Southwest Missouri the most, there is something positive in this for all. According to the Missouri state auditor, Amendment 1 will mean an additional $33 million for education each year.

We wanted to write this amendment to fix the problems of the shell games played with previous gaming education money.

We decided that money from our casino should go to the priority schools program, which has never before been funded. Our idea for ensuring that this project brings new funding to education was to specify that the money goes to this previously unfunded program.

* If developed, this casino would bring 1,000 good-paying, year-around jobs with benefits to our area and 1,900 construction jobs for people all over the state. Because of this, the project is supported by unions throughout Missouri.

Much has been said about the opposition that Amendment 1 has been receiving from a certain family and certain businesses in Branson. What people don't realize is how much support Amendment 1 has in Branson, Springfield and all of Southwest Missouri. Business owners, representatives of the entertainment and tourism industry and voters are excited about the possibility of a riverboat casino coming to our area.

Some have said that we have not been forthcoming about our project being a casino. We're confident that Missouri voters know that Amendment 1 is about bringing a riverboat casino to our town. They deserve more credit than that.

At the same time, we hope that voters consider the many great benefits this project will bring to our area. And, we hope they will consider helping us out by voting yes on Amendment 1 on Aug. 3.

 -- Chuck Walters and Denny Howard. Chuck Walters is a Rockaway Beach resident. Denny Howard is an alderman and police commissioner in Rockaway Beach. Both are members of the Rockaway Beach Gaming Committee.