Sonoma County residents might want to start brushing up on their favorite road trip game. Because in just four short weeks, we will be spending a lot more time on the road. So, plan ahead, pack a snack, and name that tune.
As if Highway 101 isn’t bad enough with nearly 100,000 travelers per day, Sonoma County residents need to prepare for an estimated addition of 40,800 more vehicles (at most) once Graton casino opens. Robert Marcucci, a former San Rafael Fire Chief, bases this estimation on Lytton Pomo tribe’s San Pablo Casino. The analysis showed that each slot generated “13.6 vehicle trips each weekday.”
Having a casino operating 24-hours, could mean no relief at any point in the day, but some may see that as an “advantage.” Rohnert Park Public Safety Director Brian Masterson says, “It trickles in, versus one huge rush. That is an advantage.”
Whether it’s an advantage or not, every Sonoma County resident will be impacted by this added traffic. The best option could be to avoid Hwy 101 at all costs, but that will congest the surface streets and back roads. Bottom line: there will be no way around these “traffic woes.”
Here is an excerpt from Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat.
Casino report warns of traffic woes
October 7th, 2013
The Graton Resort & Casino, which is set to open outside Rohnert Park on Nov. 5, could mean an increase of 40,800 vehicle trips a day on Highway 101, a report prepared for the county says, but some officials said the figure could be much lower.
“If that is the case, it would be a backup from Rohnert Park Expressway to Petaluma,” CHP Officer Jon Sloat said, referring to the upper-end projections.
The Board of Supervisors is to review today the report by consultant Robert Marcucci, a former San Rafael Fire Chief, part of a presentation that focuses on preparations for the casino’s opening weeks.
In 2012, according to Caltrans data, the combined number of north- and southbound vehicle trips on Highway 101 south of Wilfred Avenue — which will be the primary freeway exit for the casino— averaged 97,000 a day.
Officials who have been planning for the opening for two months say they are prepared for the worst eventualities. But they generally downplayed that possibility, while also acknowledging that bad traffic backups are a worry.
“It’s a high number,” Rohnert Park Public Safety Director Brian Masterson said of Marcucci’s projections. Based on conversations with casino management, numbers more along the lines of 8,000 to 10,000 visitors a day are expected, Masterson said.
Also, traffic to the casino will be spread over the 24 hours a day it is open, ameliorating its impact.
“It trickles in, versus one huge rush,” Masterson said. “That is an advantage.”
The casino’s environmental report anticipated 14,274 additional vehicle trips a day because of the project. Casino opponents have consistently said the number would be 40,000.
“We have plans going from if we don’t see much of any impact to what do we do if there’s complete gridlock,” Darrin Jenkins, Rohnert Park’s assistant city manager, said of the city’s preparations for the casino’s opening weeks.
Click here for the full article.
You’ve no doubt heard the claim that the Graton Casino will boost our local economy. But, no matter how many times Las Vegas casino interests repeat that promise, it never seems to come true. Time and again, the economic data proves that casinos are harmful to the economy of their surrounding community.
That’s reinforced by yet another expert on business and the economy. A professor at the University of Illinois recently summed up the effects. “Slot machines are job killers,” said John Kindt, an emeritus professor of business and legal policy at the U. of I. “Every slot machine takes at least one job out of the consumer economy because people aren’t buying cars, refrigerators and the other necessities of life. They’re gambling all that money away. Staying open all day and all night year-round just intensifies this problem.”
Professor Kindt also raises an important parallel between another addiction-based business.
“There are reasons why bars don’t stay open 24 hours a day – why should casinos be any different?”
Read the entire article here. An excerpt is posted below.
24-hour casinos a bad bet for Illinois, gambling critic says
September 10, 203
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Casinos in the state of Illinois want to keep their roulette wheels spinning 24 hours a day, but a leading national gambling critic warns that round-the-clock gambling could be disastrous for the Land of Lincoln.
The Illinois Gaming Board at its Sept. 19 meeting is set to consider allowing casinos in Illinois to operate continuously. John W. Kindt says it’s a bad bet for Illinois taxpayers.
“Slot machines are job killers,” said Kindt, an emeritus professor of business and legal policy at the U. of I. “Every slot machine takes at least one job out of the consumer economy because people aren’t buying cars, refrigerators and the other necessities of life. They’re gambling all that money away. Staying open all day and all night year-round just intensifies this problem.”
Currently, casinos in Illinois have to close for at least two hours per day. But the ability to operate around the clock is an extra opportunity for casinos to take advantage of sleep-deprived, intoxicated or addicted gamblers, said Kindt, a senior editor of the United States International Gambling Report, a six-volume series released between 2008 and 2013, and the author of the 2013 book “The Gambling Threat to World Public Order and Stability: Internet Gambling,” the third in a series of three books on Internet gambling.
“There’s a reason why there are no clocks in casinos,” Kindt said. “Now they want to make it even easier for people to gamble away their life savings. There are reasons why bars don’t stay open 24 hours a day – why should casinos be any different?”
Casino operators cite increased competition from video gambling and slot machines at truck stops and bars for their renewed push for the option to stay open the extra two hours.
“My response to that would simply be that gambling at truck stops and bars ought to be cut back to reasonable daylight hours, or at least until midnight,” Kindt said. “Instead of expanding gambling, we need to start restricting it. A good first step would be rejecting this push to keep casinos open 24/7, and then move on to curbing these obvious abuses at bars and truck stops.”
Slot machines also keep people in the bars drinking long past when they should have gone home.
“That makes the drunken driving aspect of it significantly worse, which inevitably leads to more taxes for the people of the state of Illinois to pay for all the extra social costs associated with drinking and gambling,” he said. “The bars love it, because it keeps people in the bars longer, but it just makes everything else a lot worse.”
For a cash-strapped state, it’s a recipe for a continued economic downturn, Kindt said.
“We are creating all these new huge social problems, which puts pressure on taxpayer dollars,” he said. “And secondly, we’re draining jobs away from the consumer economy, because slot machines don’t create jobs – you just dust them off, plug them in and watch them drain away money.”