Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, April 17, 2006

It is pleasingly comical to watch as what passes for political leadership in Western New York clambers aboard the anti-casino bandwagon. One might ask where they've all been: I've gone through three "No Casino" lawn signs in the time it's taken them to figure it out, but that seems a harsh thing to say to someone who has seen the light. The whole thing is very revealing. I'd have been happier about Byron Brown if he'd have said that he thought a casino was bad last November, but I think what we are going to find out about Mayor Brown is that he is unlikely to take a strong position on anything much. Joel Giambra, who probably ate paste through the eighth grade, (and may still sneak a taste from time to time) has awakened to the reality of the situation. The Common Council have circled their unicycles and apparently also recognized that a great big casino will take dollars away from the people who contribute to their campaigns.

There are so many reasons that a casino is a bad idea that you wonder that these people couldn't have stumbled across one before now. The social ills associated with gambling is a good argument against, even if it is the one favored by parsons and old ladies. The fact that gambling attracts other vice is a good one too. I'm fond of the argument that an Indian casino takes money away from businesses that pay taxes, but the best reason to oppose a Seneca casino in downtown Buffalo, to my way of thinking is this: casinos are for hicks.

It's true, and don't give me James Bond playing baccarat as your retort: that just means you haven't actually read "Casino Royale". Las Vegas is where carneys go instead of heaven: the marks are plentiful, and ripe for the plucking, and from what I could see the plucking of marks is the entire culture of the place. Atlantic City is where they go instead of Purgatory. There's nobody you'd meet in Monaco that you'd introduce to your worst enemy from high school-- not even if he was Joel Giambra, The Paste Eater. And those are the "classy" gambling destinations. Let's face it, for all their many contributions to cosmopolitan urbanity, like lacrosse, our brothers the Native Americans aren't really the first people that come to mind when we think of suave sophistication. To be sure, the delightful irony of a race that sold Manhattan Island for $24 bucks getting some of its own back from the Budweiser-bloated Bermuda shorts set is not lost on me, but that's not the sort of city I want to live in. Let the chumps go somewhere else to be fleeced. Let them go to Biloxi, or Davenport. Duluth, or Thackerville. There's no shortage of places to go to gamble, a fact that speaks volumes about the credulity of the American public-- we really don't need to have it here.

For myself, I'd prefer it if the city where I live was known for something other than the per capita distribution of chumps to citizens. Is that really so much to ask? Even Mayor Brown and Paste Eater Joel have awoken to the realization that an Indian casino is a bad, bad plan. Who wants to be stupider than they are? (Besides Tony Masiello?)

There are a lot of things to like about living in Buffalo. We have clients come here from all over and they are always impressed by how attractive the architecture is, and by our rich cultural life. These are sophisticated people-- they've been to Biloxi. Why should we hold ourselves out as a bunch of rubes, rustics and paste-eaters?

With any luck my present "No Casino" sign will be my last.

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