By Alex Schuman
Warren County is in the middle of a public battle over a new casino. Earlier this month, a group pushing for the casino near Norwalk gathered 3,300 signatures and walked them down to the county auditor.
It was enough to get the issue put on a ballot for Warren County residents to vote yes or no on May 7th. After that, the idea still must be approved by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
The group pushing for the new casino is called the Warren County Citizens for Good Jobs. They said the plan is all about creating jobs and lowering property taxes.
But a lot of people who came to their informational meeting in Norwalk on Thursday, came with worries the casino may not bring the benefits they promise.
"If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. We've seen other casinos make promises so we're dead set against it," said Pat Ashbaugh, Norwalk resident.
One of the main concerns is that what will be on the ballot does not tie the company to their planned location, or require new money from the casino to go to lowering property taxes.
It's a matter of trust, which is something the Warren County Economic Development office hopes will build before the vote.
"We're very confident that when people realize the facts - that they will be supporting this project," said Jason White, Warren County Economic Development executive director.
Opponents shared concerns about bringing more gambling into the community. They pointed to the National Gambling Impact Study, which claims gambling leads to more divorce and child abuse in areas with a casino.
"The only people going to casinos are adults and it's a matter of adult responsibility," said Steve England, a Norwalk resident. "I mean there are liquor stores on every corner. You can buy alcohol everywhere. I think that's more of a detriment to society."
The economic development office thinks the casino will be a huge boost for the local economy and offer new entertainment. They hope by May 7th, they can prove voting yes, is not a gamble.