Redeeming Qualities

I seem to have presented casinos and the State in a bad light. I will give some thought to the benefits a casino might have and get back to you later today.

The ProPublica series on gambling in Illinois will give you more information than I can. All I know as a life-long Illinoisan is that we were told the lottery would be extra money for education, that having the most gambling machines of any state would project to numbers not reached, and there is a hope that this last piece of legislation approving the proliferation of gambling will factor in tax revenues to better the States fiscal status. I am pretty sure that the lottery has not helped education and that we are still in the bottom five (maybe two) of state fiscal status. A lot of the blame for that fiscal status is put on the state pension system. While that might be true it is not because the workers made bad decisions. It was because the smartest people in the room gambled on assumptions that were not reasonable. Those same people have decided that revenues from gambling will be part of the solution to our states fiscal statues.

Once again the powers to be are willing to gamble on their citizen’s well-being for the lure of tax revenues which are better termed gambling losses. It is not just the well-being of the person with a gambling disorder and their family system that the state is gambling on. It also affects the neighbors of the homes being foreclosed because of gambling debts, the people paying higher interest rates on credit cards because the companies choose to make up for people have debts discharged, the employees of companies affected by embezzlement, the little league organization that cannot buy new equipment because of fraud. The list is as long as your imagination which you probably can find a real life situation to fit.

The above link is an article that has a story about a 60 Minutes piece that might better explain my position. Please find the video of Gov (PA) Rendell yelling at Leslie Stahl. The outburst probably fits the Governor’s personality more than other Governors but I think when decisions are made to proliferate gambling they are all saying the same thing.

Wait you say, this is suppose to be about the redeeming qualities of casinos. I have not been in a casino since 1975 so I can only speak anecdotally. Yes, casinos are a destination vacation for some, they have good-sometimes inexpensive food, they are a place to socialize for some, they might even have a cognitive benefit for some. I am sure there are other possible benefits to list. I cannot think of them. If you want to talk about jobs and such there does not seem to be much research outside of casino funded research to make the case. I link below to St. Louis Fed article that has thoughts on employment benefits of casinos. Yes, the state takes a portion of gambler’s losses. I choose to believe those benefits do not override the costs to society. I choose to believe in Grinol’s work that casinos most likely do not even make fiscal sense.

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