Gambling advocates and advertising campaigns tell us casinos are good for our communities. But is it all true?
A critical-thinking review of the facts may leave you questioning what you’ve been marketed by those wealthy casino owners.
Viva Las Vegas?
The idea of Vegas has caught on, evidenced by the fact that almost all states have legalized gambling now. At a minimum, states offer gaming in the form of the lottery, and most states now have casinos or some other betting facilities.
- The gaming industry is a $250 billion dollar industry in the U.S.
- Gambling is legal with restrictions under U.S. federal law; each state is free to prohibit or allow gambling however it would like within its borders.
- The availability of gambling and participation is increasing in the country as a whole.
But do casinos really benefit the community as much as they claim to?
Not many people consider this side of the argument.
Points to Ponder
Ad: Gambling brings in extra money for the state
Gambling revenues are taxed heavily by the state, and states earmark and use this extra tax money in ways such as:
- Schools and education
- City offices and government agencies
- State and local government programs
- Help programs for compulsive gamblers
Casinos brag about how much money they pay to benefit the community, most commonly in education. However, there are some problems with this notion.
Casinos are taxed at a higher rate, true, but one issue is the “extra” tax money can be moved around by state officials.
For example, a casino may pay $10 million a year toward education tax in a particular state, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to an extra $10 million state education dollars. The state may move other tax revenue, previously budgeted for education, into another category and spend it elsewhere.
The same is true of all the above categories; the state can legislate at will where its tax income goes and where money previously allocated for those categories is spent as well.
Ad: Casinos create new jobs
Gambling advocates boast that casinos and gambling facilities create more new jobs for the communities in which they reside. Billboards and signs near casino towns advertise this proudly.
Well, maybe casinos bring new jobs, maybe not.
First, consider that statistics can be easily manipulated.
Typically, reports done on the rise or decline of a given state’s employment rate consider the state as a whole — not just the casino town. And if the unemployment rate dropped statewide, the new casinos can’t take all the credit for that.
Also, what effect has the economy had on the state in the reporting year?
Finally, the casinos may be hiring people from other companies in the community, not unemployed people. And the companies those employees came from may be doing the same. So are they creating new jobs or just rotating jobs around?
How many of the new casino employees are working there as a second job? It’s hard to tell.