***Edit 4/10/24 For Rick Tryon***

Does Great Falls, Montana REALLY Need Another Casino?

Driving into work this morning, I heard on the news that the west side Best Wok location was being eyed as another location for a casino in Great Falls.  Apparently it's in the hands of our city council.

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I've been thinking about this all day.  That area of town is getting better all the time, BUT it still needs more places to shop.  If you think of bars and other gambling places on the Northwest side of town, it doesn't seem like that much of a need.

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Great Falls, Montana Has A LOT Of Casinos. A LOT

The Gambling Control Division puts out a biennial report of gambling and casinos broken down by city and county.

Here's how it shakes out for Great Falls.  There is only one city in Montana with more casinos than Great Falls.  Since we are ranked 3rd in the state for population, that doesn't seem right.

According to the Fiscal Year 2022 report:

Great Falls:

  • Number of Video Gaming machines: 1,375
  • Estimated population as of 7.1.21: 60,403
  • Average number of people per machine: 44
  • Number of Video Gaming locations: 90
  • Video Gambling Tax collected: $5,807,841

For comparison, Montana's largest city, Billings:

  • Number of Video Gaming machines: 2,344
  • Estimated population as of 7.1.21: 117,455
  • Average number of people per machine: 50
  • Number of Video Gaming locations: 132
  • Video Gambling Tax collected: $13,516,485

The population of Billings is nearly double, yet they only have 42 more casinos for 57,000 more people.  Billings has 132 casinos.  Mathematically, if Great Falls were not heavily weighted with casinos, they'd have, at least, 180 in Billings, right?

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Great Falls, Montana does NOT need another casino.

I can think of 4 things Great Falls needs right off the top of my head:

  • Youth friendly businesses
  • Department stores
  • Restaurants
  • More grocery store variety

It's An Election Year

If you're tired of having another casino open every time you turn around, maybe it's time to put some new people in a position of power in Great Falls.

Hear me out, the current group won't let in any kind of new business that residents of Great Falls are constantly asking for.  But, if there's a chance to put up a new casino they'll call a special session.  ( I'm kidding about the special session part, but not the rest.)

EDIT 4/10/24 ⬇

For clarity, the zoning commission has to approve that instead of a restaurant, this building can become a casino THEN it goes to the Great Falls City Commission for approval.

Although there are no city commissioners up for reelection this cycle, it doesn't mean it's not necessary to go and vote for the county commission race, as our city lies inside of the county.

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For the love of God, NO MORE CASINOS.  And VoteVote like the future of Great Falls depends on it.

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Museums in Great Falls, Montana

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