Thursday, February 12, 2009

Half Ass City

We are a half ass city.

Like a teenager with self-esteem issues, Atlanta tends to half ass its way through everything.

We built and built and built while half-assing infrastructure until the sewers told us to pony up $4 billion or they would spew sludge into the streets.

We half-assed on transportation and ended up with the most incomplete, dysfunctional transit system of any major city in the country.

But most glaringly, in 1996, exposed to the world, we half-assed the Olympics and when something went wrong, the press handed our half-ass back to us on an ink-stained platter.

And we're about to do it again.

For years people of many stripes, myself included, have promoted the idea of a casino at Underground. Despite the whines of the moralists, it would solve many problems. It would give the ubiquitous conventioneers a place to wander. It would bring god knows how much revenue to a city strapped for cash. Most importantly, it would finally lance the boil of a city subsidized entertainment district that only entertains as a frightening freak show.

But instead of changing the state law which prevents casino gambling, Atlanta is exploring using a loophole in the lottery law which allows video gambling machines -and not even those poor pitiful video poker machines, but some half-ass lottery spewing chimera.

Left on Lanier correctly notes, "If Atlanta is going to pursue gambling as a correction to budget issues, then it’s best to make it hardcore. Attract big money gamblers by providing live poker with live dealers, pit bosses, additional security, the whole works. Over time, we could add the fountains and lighting and attractions, and become a mini-Las Vegas- complete with police presence and a general sense of well-being in the city center".

But I doubt we will. We won't because we don't understand the concept of all-in. We'd rather cautiously play a little here and a little there - never making that breath gasping push. And every poker player of any skill knows the inevitable result of this strategy - no money left and out of the game.


Unknown said...

Totally agree on this. I actually see it as worse, though. I think the ticket-spewing machines would actually make the downtown *worse*. Instead of giving Underground a little glam-up, it would become nothing better than your neighborhood convenience store on a Wednesday at 6PM. Lines of hopeful saps with little to gamble, but gambling anyway. Before you know it, no one will want to go there and we'll be back where we started.

Plus, one of the big bonuses of a Vegas-style extravaganza is the construction, design, renovation, and re-design that goes on constantly in such a glammed-up place.

We have already lost most of our convention business to Vegas and Orlando, no lottery-ticket-spewing-machine-with lights is going to get that back. Just like the big fish tank didn't.

Ugh. Gives me a headache thinking about it.

decaturguy said...

What an abomination this proposal this is. I doubt it will happen, but who knows?

What should happen with the Underground needs to be redevelopment on the street level with a good mix of housing/office. Once there is sufficient density then the retail in the "underground" part of the Underground will take care of itself.

No, it's not a quick, easy fix, and with the housing and credit crisis, it's going to take awhile, but hasn't the Underground been a complete failure for the past 30 years anyway? What's the rush?

Anonymous said...

I agree. I might be more supportive if I thought it was a real stepping stone -- that this lottery gambling thing would turn into real casino gambling in a few years once the legislature sees the monetary benefit and changes the law -- but I don't see any way the General Assembly gets that far, maybe ever. I mean, we're still waiting to buy beer on Sunday. And the legislature never lifts a finger to help out Atlanta. In fact, the opposite: it seems to go out of its way to screw this city over even when it has little or no cost to the state itself.

But you're right about Atlanta. Other examples:
- a $300 million symphony hall in the middle of a block on narrow 14th Street
- the 17th Street bridge
- MARTA stations built away from their target destinations to take advantage of cheaper or available land
- Token decorative touches on otherwise dull or hideous buildings
- Supposed mixed-use developments that have a tiny portion of street-level activity in an island of big-box stores and parking lots (I'm looking at you, Sembler.)

It's like our motto is "something is better than nothing."

Sara said...

I fear that instead of using this lottery-based casino as a gateway to a real casino, the fundies would use the utter failure of the lottery-based casino as a reason to never even conssider taking it one step further. They'd create something designed to fail so that you don't have to deal with the option that could really succeed.

I just cannot imagine a single tourist going to a "casino" solely to print out lottery tickets.

Art Department Store said...

Poor Atlanta. I've been in love with it since I was 14. It always hugged me much tighter than Chicago. It was always more whimsical and silly than New York. It always had its flaws. It charms the hell out of me. Atlanta is just plain stupid. I love that about it. Nobody really wants to ride Marta in any form if they can help it. You can't see surface streets from a subway and almost as hard from a bus.

Underground was always a pain in the butt. It was always just plain stupid. I don't care. Atlanta is like the dumb, cute boyfriend I left for the smart guy who understood finance. Atlanta is still hot. It is still pretty. But I don't think it will ever be very smart. Kind of like the city version of Keanu Reeves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the props, but your post was better written then mine. I am torn between admiration and green-eyed jealousy right now.

Unknown said...

Half-assed is absolutely right.

The way I understand it, the casino would be slots only because the lottery loophole doesn't apply to skill games.

Think of it as instead of buying a scratch off, you pull a handle or press a button.

Rusty said...

Another "I agree this is a horrible idea" comment.

Unknown said...

Chimera is right. The fact this proposal is getting serious mention is just nauseating.

I think you can add 'government' to the list of half-assedness that's inherent to this region, for much the same reasons. There's an inherently broken social structure around here, and that brokenness adds an illegitimacy to everything that follows, especially our institutions.

The only vote I have is my occasional Mega Millions ticket, and between this bullshit and the bonuses, I'm done with it.

SavRed said...

I've wanted horse racing and casinos at the old Pooler Daimler-Chrysler plant site in Savannah since forever.

Fly in, gamble, fly out. Leave SPLOST and ESPLOST $$

Icarus said...

Half Ass?

Are you sure you're not giving too much credit?

griftdrift said...


You know I think this is the first time we've had across the board consensus. That worries me a bit.

Sara said...

That means this shit idea will probably actually come to fruition.

Amber Rhea said...

Am I too late to jump into the pool? Yeah, this idea is idiotic.

Amber Rhea said...

Request! GriftDrift, you should change your Blogger settings so comments display the date and time of the comment, not just the time. I still don't understand why Blogger doesn't make that their default.

Rusty said...

Caveat: a real upscale casino with actual gambling could, maybe be awesome. I shudder when I think of a video game casino in Underground. Like there aren't enough schemes to steal money from poor people in this city already.

griftdrift said...


Unknown said...

If we did a REAL casino, it would violate our motto, "A great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there"!

Jen said...

If we did a REAL casino, it would violate our motto, "A great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there"!

Yes! That is totally Atlanta's motto.

Also, if Atlanta needs awesome casino ideas, just ask T. and I. We have like three fantastically Vegasy amazing ideas. But really, they're way too cool for Atlanta.