Place Your Bets On If Walker County Gets A Casino

Coming To A State or County Near You? Credit: Lisa Brewster (CC BY-SA)
Coming To A County Near You?
Photo: Lisa Brewster (CC BY-SA)

There’s rumor of attracting a casino to Walker County. In responding to a caller to a local cable-access show on September 23rd, Commissioner Bebe Heiskell responded to a caller who posed the question. From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

“I’d rather it go in Walker County, and I hope that doesn’t make me a hypocrite Christian,” she said. “But they’re going to go somewhere and do it. And we have to have some way — besides property tax — to raise money around here.”

Sunday sales failed when it was on the ballot last year, so getting this on the ballot and passing in a very socially conservative area would be an amazing feat. 53% of people pulling a Republican primary ballot in Walker County opposed the question posed by the state GOP of casino gambling with revenues going to education. In spite of the outcome of the question, I believe the merits of casino gambling should be debated. I personally wouldn’t object to a casino resort if it would help mitigate additional increases in property tax (which rose from 4.705 to 8.725 in the past couple of years in part to securing some of the debt that our local hospital, Hutcheson Medical Center, has accrued). However, depending on how the proposal is stated, I don’t believe we would be getting a lot of cash from the revenues of the casino.

Our local commissioner elections will, I suspect, be highly contested. Commissioner Heiskell sounds to be mounting a re-election campaign, but I know of a couple of people who have said they would consider a challenge against her in the 2016 Republican Primary. Whether or not those people actually qualify is a different story. She won the 2012 primary by around 200 votes. I suspect it will be a bit tougher this go around if the casino idea is still being floated along with the recent increase in property tax.

Our county is trying to draw in tourist dollars, and with being so close to Chattanooga it’s hard to blame them. It seems to me though that our county is more industrial-minded, but those factories are shutting down and moving…although, we are seeing a large plastics manufacturer building a plant in Rock Spring.

I have no doubt that talks of a casino stems from the fact that there is talk across the state about expanding the gambling industry in our state. Whether or not proponents of gambling can convince a statewide electorate and garner support of locals remains to be seen.


  1. saltycracker says:

    “Mitigate property taxes” is a lie, only viable approach is they eliminate homesteaded property taxes without return unless voted back in. Mitigate might appease the non homesteaders if they are not paying attention.

  2. northside101 says:

    There was an advisory question on casinos in the July 2012 Republican statewide primary, and the measure got approval, though just barely (50.2%)—but one would think that if this issue is winning approval in the GOP primary, which certainly is more conservative than the statewide November general electorate, then the issue should be favored in the general.

    You would not expect casinos to get approval among Walker County voters—and indeed, the county voted “no” on that question in the GOP primary. However, the margin was hardly lopsided, just 53% no to 47% yes. A lot of counties were closely divided on this question—Cobb 51% yes, 49% no; DeKalb also 51-49; Fulton 53% yes to 47% no, Gwinnett an incredibly close 49.8% yes to 50.2% no. Heavily Republican Cherokee and Forsyth Counties voted 55% and 54% in favor of casinos, respectively.

    In 1992, the state lottery passed by a 52-48% margin, generally running best in the state’s metro areas (most of the state’s 20 or so largest counties, whether Republican or Democratic, voted in favor of it), while losing many rural counties.

  3. David says:

    So maybe should could convert Hutchinson Medical Center to a casino. Another Pipe dream. Wouldn’t it make more economic sense to have a casino on I-75 near the Tennessee Border in Catoosa County? Heck even Dade County on I-24 or I-59 would make a better site on ease of people getting there. But we don’t even have LBD in Dade so scratch that one.

  4. David Colburn says:

    If stupid had another name it would be gambling casinos to help a local economy.
    The collateral cost and harm, after the first couple of years, has been quantified.
    It costs more to treat the diseases of crime, broken families, bankruptcies, destroyed small businesses (small stores and restaurants), spending on infrastructure, political corruption, etc. than is received.
    NH used to be conservative but they rationalized the first state lottery, then open primaries, and now they are a Democrat mess.
    If the goal is to destroy Georgia – then casinos are a powerful tool.
    If the goal is to preserve Georgia-special, discourage rather than encourage crime, defend families, and preserve traditional Christian-ethics – we must reject casinos.
    As for Christians, this would be like Abraham saying to Lot “Hey, let’s have our own Sodom & Gommorah over here. Since people are going anyhow we may as well get a piece of the action.”

    • xdog says:

      “NH used to be conservative but they rationalized the first state lottery, then open primaries, and now they are a Democrat mess.”

      I blame the Beatles or Woody Allen, I forget which.

    • benevolus says:

      Things are changing though. It’s so easy to gamble now, if someone has a problem they can scratch that itch without going to a casino. Nevertheless, I suppose a casino would increase gambling. But now there is quite a bit of gambling going on and the state gets zero from it. Kinda like marijuana; people are doing it whether or not the state is involved. Isn’t it better to try to control/manage it?

  5. David Colburn says:

    Wisdom would be to blame short-sighted politicians who refuse to restrain spending then look for quick-fix funding sources – turning a blind-eye to long-term consequences.

    I was in NH when they rationalized open primaries and warned the primary sponsor (Donna Sytek) against their counter-productive effort to artificially increase Primary participation – that the numbers would not increase but the quality of campaigns and candidates would decrease … history proved both critiques correct.

  6. David Colburn says:

    So, where does it stop?
    Everything that people do, no matter the harm to family, freedom, or neighborhood should be legalized because the government doesn’t get a piece of the action?
    When we legalize things we endorse them – is there anything we’re unwilling to endorse for more money for government to spend?
    Do we have any interest in defending a healthy culture – or have we become so short-sighted that we can’t see the obvious unintended consequences?
    Contrary to radical-Libertarian philosophers no action in a shared civilization comes with zero impact on others – in reality everything is interconnected.
    Harm to self is a choice – but it never comes without a negative impact on others – so it’s not true an “it’s only my business” choice.
    e.g. Hospitals, nursing homes, & hospices are filled with cancer patients from tobacco abuse – most are on welfare (Medicaid, Medicare) – which means others are working & having part of their income taken in taxes to pay for avoidable illness – due the foolish choices of others.
    If you choose to smoke then buy insurance so others don’t have to bear your financial healthcare consequences for you – projecting your failure-cost on others is selfish.
    e.g. If you ride a motorcycle without a helmet buy special insurance – taxpayers are forced to pay millions for avoidable head-injuries – that’s selfish.
    Contrary to radical-Leftist Democrats the more loony the idea is not justification to celebrate it & the more rational the idea is not justification to attack it.
    If this greatest experiment in freedom & peace in the history of humankind is to survive we will have to understand & apply some boundaries & sorry – that means saying no sometimes.

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