A casino across the street from Fairchild Air Force Base is a major threat to the future existence of Fairchild. Fairchild constitutes 13 percent of the local economy. With over 5,200 employees, it is the largest employer in Eastern Washington. Its annual economic impact is approximately $427 million, based upon new dollars brought into the Spokane community.
Since the U.S. Department of Defense wants to close 25 percent of its bases, this infringement creates a higher probability Fairchild will be closed. The Air Force, because of policy, does not comment negatively on development near its bases. So when it is stated that the Air Force does not object to the casino, it is this policy that you are hearing.
The decision allowing an off-reservation casino across the street from Fairchild is not a Native American or gambling issue. It is a local economic issue affecting all the citizens of Eastern Washington and Spokane. Since most of the casino’s customers will be local, the overall impact of the casino is a reduction in the dollars their customers would spend at local businesses.
The real question is: What is the economic impact of a casino with a shuttered base?