Bread and circuses
I don't know enough about the three casino proposals to say with confidence whether the state Gaming Control Board made the right decision in awarding PITG the city's lone casino license. I do think that the North Shore was the best location for a casino; it's relatively isolated from residential neighborhoods with decent access to transportation and parking. And it just might lead people to use the boondogle that is the North Shore Connector.
I am bemused at the tantrums thrown by supporters of the Isle of Capri's plan, whose biggest selling point appeared to be that it would provide funding for a new "multi-purpose facility" (hockey arena). I don't understand why people believe that government power or funding should be expended to provide homes to professional sports teams--which are, after all, private businesses. (Mike Madison has been talking sense on this issue at Pittsblog, here and here.)
Isle of Capri pledged $290 million toward a new arena. But what about cost overruns? Would they have paid those? And who would have received the revenues from this facility? Mario Lemieux recently referred to the proposed arena as a public facility, which meant it would not generate property taxes. Does that mean the public would have gotten the revenues from non-hockey events? Because that's not how things worked out at PNC Park or Heinz Field.
Proponents endorsed the Isle of Capri plan because of its promise of a privately funded arena. But the casino licensees are expected--required, I believe--to make contributions to their communities. So money spent on a hockey arena would not have been spent on more pressing needs, of which Pittsburgh has many. (The same goes with the money promised by PITG toward Plan B.) The idea that public officials should have awarded the casino license based on its impact on a hockey team would be laughable were it not so indicative of the quality of governance to which we have grown sadly accustomed.