Allegan Countys Largest Employer
Opposes Casino

October 12, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Not all AlleganCounty businesses are looking forward to the Gun Lake Casino.

The county's largest employer, generic pharmaceutical manufacturer Perrigo Inc., has actively campaigned against it. The company deferred questions to board member and former chairman and CO Michael Jandernoa, one of the more vocal members of the Grand Rapids-based, anti-casino organization 23 is nough.

"The economic impact that is favorable within a couple of miles is very unfavorable within a 50-mile radius, particularly to manufacturing jobs that require quality," said Jandernoa, also a board member of area manufacturers Steelcase, ADAC Plastics and Cascade ngineering. "There is a negative impact from a number of people that have difficulty controlling their need and interest in gambling."

Anecdotally, Jandernoa said that proximity to gaming facilities creates a negative impact on absenteeism, tardiness and other personnel issues related to bankruptcy and divorce. There is no readily available data to support this.

A recent 10-year study by CentralMichiganUniversity examining the impact of tribal gaming in Michigan did find notable differences in many areas between communities that host tribal casinos and those that do not but are within a 50-mile radius, when compared to other state communities. Personal bankruptcy was among those findings, as host communities saw a 41.6 percent decrease in the 10 years following a casino launch, while neighboring communities only saw a 24.7 percent decrease. Divorce rates decreased in host counties by 6 percent and in neighboring counties by 12.8 percent.

The most notable disparity was the difference in population increase. Casino counties increased at a rate four times that of the average state county — 19.3 percent vs. 5.6 percent — but neighboring counties increased by a much larger degree, 79.1 percent.

Absenteeism was not among the areas tracked by study.

"A lot of companies don't like to talk about it, but you definitely see it in the Detroit area," Jandernoa said. Detroit has three casinos.

"Our senior executives (at Perrigo) are very concerned. It's a global world, and not every country has such an intense concentration of casinos. None of the provinces in India or China do, and that makes the competitive landscape even worse."

Jandernoa suggested that the introduction of casino gambling to the state was a contributing factor to the collapse of the automotive industry.

"I'm not saying it's the only reason, but it's an additional factor," he said. "You don't have to be an economic specialist to see some of these correlations."

The clearinghouse for lobbying efforts against the casino, 23 is nough recently sent letters to supporting legislators announcing that it would no longer be actively involved in legislative concerns. The organization has provided most of the financing for an ongoing lawsuit by another local anti-gambling organization, Michigan Gambling Organization, against the U.S. Department of Interior concerning the government's intentions to take the former Ampro facility in Bradley into trust as reservation land for the development of the casino.    

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