jump in quick when there is a new gamblingrn—excuse me, gaming—opportunityrnand jump out fast when their “business”rnslows down. Witness how three ofrnthe five riverboat casinos in Iowa hoistedrnanchor after only two years when juicierrn”markets” opened up in other states.rnThe riverboat gambling law passed byrnthe Missouri Legislature and approvedrnby Governor Carnahan calls for arn$50,000 licensing fee (to keep the momand-rnpop casino operators out) and providesrnfor the state to collect 20 percent ofrnthe “adjusted gross income” of thesernboats. But it is a safe bet that the socialrncosts of teaching so many citizens to becomernhabitual gamblers will largely nullifyrnthe gains that Governor Carnahanrnand the Democratic majority in the staternlegislature are gambling on. In virtuallyrnevery case, increased gambling is accompaniedrnby higher welfare costs,rnmuch greater costs for treating compulsiverngamblers, and increased crime.rnThere are three primary reasons thernriverboat casino craze will likely end withrna whimper. First, fierce competition isrnemerging as paddleboat owners from everyrnstate with a major waterway scramblernto join the riverboat “gold rush.” Illinoisrnhas already launched eight riverboat casinos,rnMissouri is scrambling to put a raftrnof new riverboats in the water, and Indianarnhas just approved 12 more. ThernPresident-Casino Mississippi, whichrnopened in Biloxi in August 1992, has alreadyrnseen its competition increase fromrnzero to at least six riverboats in the area.rnHigh-stakes land-based casino operatorsrnalso have big plans for launching riverboatrnoperations. As this frenzy heats up,rnwinnings are bound to fall and many ofrnthese “dreamboats” will sink in a river ofrnred ink.rnSecond, the flood of new gamblingrnmoney being anticipated is not going tornarrive. A study by the St. Louis Port Authorityrnfound that 5.7 million of the 7.2rnmillion gamblers expected to patronizernthe new floating gambling joints will bernfrom the St. Louis area. “This meansrnthat 80 percent of the money spent onrngambling here would have otherwisernbeen spent on other forms of entertainmentrn—or remained in accounts in St.rnLouis banks,” the St. Louis Business Journalrnreported. After the initial wave ofrn”gulls” and compulsive gamblers hasrnbeen fleeced, the public enthusiasm forrnthis organized robbery almost certainlyrnwill wane. The supply of pigeons is notrninfinite.rnThird, the Democrats who have ruledrnthe Missouri Legislature for decades,rnalong with tax king Mel Carnahan, willrnprobably be thrown out by Missouriansrnwhen they grow tired of the high taxes,rnrabid promotion of gambling, and newrn$300 million school tax law that makesrnpuppets of local school districts.rnSt. Louisans would do well to considerrnthe experience of Alton, as told recentlyrnby John J. Dunphy, owner of arnbookstore in that city. Dunphy reportsrnthat the arrival of the original Alton Bellerncasino at this city in 1991 brought morernthan $3 million in proceeds to the cityrngovernment but that the effect on Altonrnbusiness has been negligible. Dunphyrnsays he has yet to have a blackjack playerrnfresh off the Belle dash into his bookshoprnto purchase the works of Ibsen orrnCamus. And even the local bars failed tornget new business from Belle patrons.rnOther retailers have confirmed thatrnthose who come to try their luck on thernAlton Belle just gamble and go home.rnSt. Louisans should ask themselves ifrnthey really want wall-to-wall riverboatrncasinos on their riverfront. That is whatrnthey are liable to get if the city fills fourrnavailable berths with floating casinos.rnThat noted philanthropist DonaldrnTrump has indicated an interest in establishingrna world-class casino in St.rnLouis and has said that he might toss inrna convention center/hotel to sweeten therndeal. But should St. Louisans aspire tornsee their city turn into Las Vegas East?rnThey should also ponder the prospect ofrnhaving their city government influencedrnby multimillionaire casino-boat owners.rnPittsburgh mogul John Connelly, chairmanrnand chief executive of PresidentrnRiverboat Casinos, Inc., is sitting on arn$390 million pile of stock in that company.rnAs I was writing this, he was alsornabout to become nearly $80 million richerrnby issuing two million shares of stockrnin his company (which will reduce hisrnshare to 32.4 percent) in anticipation ofrnopening the Admiral casino on the St.rnLouis riverfront.rnConnelly’s influence in St. Louis isrnalready attested to by the fact that forrn$20,580 a year his companies control sixrnpremium lease slots on the St. Louisrnriverfront, including three that could bernused for gambling boats. The six includernthe permanently moored Robert E. Leernrestaurant, the Becky Thatcher, HuckrnFinn, and Tom Sawyer cruise ships, and,rnin between these, the Admiral and vacantrnPresident and Belle of St. Louis, asrnwell as an office barge. Connelly wasrnalso able to wangle state legislative approval,rnvia Representative Jet Banksrn(D-St. Louis), to have his Admiral casinornremain permanently moored on the St.rnLouis riverfront while other riverboatrncasinos have to cruise the Mississippi.rnIowa’s riverboat gambling director.rnChuck Patton, admits that casinos havernbrought an increase in crime to his state.rnWhen high-rollers turn the St. Louisrnriverfront into a gambling rnecea, morernpolice will be needed on the riverfront.rnBut where will the city get the addedrnpolice when it is already far short of thernnumber of officers needed to fightrnSt. Louis’s escalating crime?rnAs we go to press, the MissourirnSupreme Court has just ruled that thernstatute authorizing riverboat casinos inrnthe state is unconstitutional because itrnexcludes certain types of gambling.rnMissouri’s legislature has hence authorizedrna statewide vote—perhaps as earlyrnas April—for a constitutional amendmentrnapproving riverboat casinos.rnBut regardless of how this plays out,rnMissourians should remember thatrngovernment is supposed to protect therninterests of citizens and that encouragingrnMissourians to try their luck againstrnthe long odds of riverboat games—at anrnaverage loss of $50 per customer—is arndisservice to the people the governmentrnis sworn to protect. Claiming thesernmoney-grabbing water palaces willrnproduce jobs and prosperity is a stuntrnworthy of Barnum.rn—Oliver Starr, Jr.rnVANCOUVER was a stately if inelegantrnplace when I last visited it 26 yearsrnago. The harbor was a breathtaking sight,rnalthough the downtown area was rundownrnand the architecture undistinguished.rnStill, Vancouver was memorablernbecause it was a city framed by mountains,rnwith extraordinary vistas and a congenialrnclimate. It had a rare calm andrncharm, the kind of charm that lures yourninto returning.rnObviously the mountains, the vistas,rnand the congenial climate haven’t disappeared.rnMoreover, Vancouver has developedrnits inner city. Gastown, the oldrncity, now has precious shops and bistrosrnthat rival any in San Francisco, and PacificrnCenter Mall is reputedly the largestrnunderground mall on the continent. Allrnthe chic stores can be found here, fromrnLaura Ashley to Ralph Lauren. The arearn8/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn