Column: Casinos are a losing bet

Column: Casinos are a losing bet

By Paul Davies
January 27, 2014
Special to the Tampa Bay Times

The rosy projections that gambling concerns are offering up in Florida in exchange for more gaming have been heard elsewhere. But Floridians would be smart to examine the impact that expansion has had elsewhere before embracing casinos’ overhyped and unsustainable claims.

To be sure, casinos generate jobs and tax revenue. But Floridians should consider:

• In Illinois, the state’s 10 casinos employ 7,828 people. But as the Chicago Sun-Times reported, the state Gaming Board said 9,957 problem gamblers placed their name on a list that prohibits them from entering a casino. In other words, the casinos have helped create more gambling addicts than jobs.

• Tax benefits rarely come as advertised. The Ohio Department of Taxation told voters in 2009 that the annual tax revenue from gambling would be $1.9 billion. This fiscal year casinos are expected to generate just $868 million.

Even more misleading, the claims that casinos will spark tourism and other economic development rarely materialize.

When Detroit legalized casinos in the 1990s, then-Mayor Dennis Archer promised to use gambling revenues to hire more police and fund public works projects. A riverfront casino district was going to attract other development. In 2012, Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson examined the promises and wrote the following: “As the casino plans unfolded, almost none of those benefits materialized.” Last year, Detroit declared bankruptcy.

In New York, an Indian casino was supposed to boost economic development in Niagara Falls. But 10 years after that casino opened, “not many of the hopes have turned into reality,” the Buffalo News reported last year.

“Unemployment rates in Niagara Falls are among the highest in the state, and only one major development project — the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute — has occurred in the last 10 years. Much of the area around the casino remains empty and blighted. In addition, law enforcement officials have pointed to some high-profile embezzlement cases that antigambling voices blame on casinos.”

The newspaper touched on the most troubling aspect when it comes to selling the public on casinos: Supporters either ignore or downplay social and economic costs….


Continue to the full article here.



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