The House Always Wins: Casinos Top List of Eminent Domain Beneficiaries
Casinos win the prize for the most ruthless beneficiaries of eminent domain. And because they bring in so much tax revenue, local governments always let the casinos call the shots. In addition to demolishing Mrs. Pappas’ building for a casino consortium before she even appeared in court, the Stratosphere casino convinced the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency to condemn 17 of the Stratosphere’s neighbors. In Atlantic City, the MGM Grand convinced the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority—the State casino agency—to condemn property for a casino it never built. Mirage Resorts required the condemnation of a neighborhood for a tunnel leading to the new casino it was supposedly going to build. After the homes were gone, Mirage merged with MGM Grand, which might, someday, build a casino at the end of the tunnel. Finally, in Detroit, the City filed condemnation actions against many waterfront businesses to make room for new casinos. The condemnations were thrown out because the City had not negotiated in good faith to buy the property. The City threatened that it would condemn the properties again if the owners didn’t sell. In the end, however, after putting the businesses through years of uncertainty, two out of three casinos decided not to move there anyway.
Sources: All of these cases appear in this report in the sections for their respective cities.