Letters to the Editor

Gambling tax: Vices, virtues and values | Federal Way letters

Federal Way has its share of strong-willed Christians, conservatives and others that continually flaunt their “values.” It may be time to put up or shut up.

The Mirror published an article “City wants to cut gambling tax after casino closes” in the May 19 issue regarding the closure of PJ Pockets Casino, which has prompted city manager Brian Wilson to seek a lower gambling tax. The City of Federal Way raised the tax from 11 to 20 percent of gross gambling receipts in 1998 in order to halt the proliferation of gambling activities and establishments.

Mr. Wilson is concerned (mainly, it would seem) about the loss of gambling tax revenues from the casino co-owned by Steve Griffiths. Mr. Wilson’s answer is for the city to enact an emergency ordinance as soon as the second week of June to lower the tax to 10 percent along with a reduction of the pull-tab tax from 5 to 4 percent. “I’m pleased we might have a solution here,” Wilson said in The Mirror report.

The kicker is that for PJ Pockets, the lower gambling tax could provide a happy ending for Mr. Griffiths because “based on those efforts, we are in serious consideration of reopening.”

So, some critical questions that our elected officials should consider (and better have some real good answers) are called for. Is the city manager concerned more about the real economic and social impact of cutting the tax in half, or giving a helping hand to a failing business? Specifically, can reasonable data be provided that gambling tax revenues (from the city as a whole) will actually not drop dramatically?

Hey, give us a break! How about some basic math? The amount of gambling would have to at least double to make up for the lower tax. Can that possibly happen? On the social side, is this reversal of 1998 enacted policy what the citizens of our fine city really want? Is PJ Pockets so important to the well being of the city’s quality of life that an emergency ordinance should be rushed through? Come on, values and virtues are long-term propositions. City council members also ask yourselves — exactly who will get the immediate value?

James R. Simpson, Federal Way

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