10/27/2009

Predatory Slots Hurt Families and Local Communities

“If someone were to come along and tell me that they were going to put a casino…where I live, I would probably work very, very hard against it.”

Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association.[1]

Casinos are simply one huge transfer of money from the pockets of working families to the bank accounts of multi-millionaires.

Expanded gambling causes increases in crime. One of the most comprehensive studies on casinos and crime reported that casinos increased rates of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. [2]

More “convenience gambling”, closer to home, creates more problem gamblers. Even proponents of expanded gambling admit that the number of problem gamblers grows as people have easier access to government-promoted slots.  That could translate into as many as 300,000 people in Massachusetts, not including the family members and friends of these addicts who will also experience the consequences. [3] That’s also 10 times the number of the most optimistic job creation figures.

Problem gambling leads to distressed families, child neglect, suicide and bankruptcy. Domestic violence rates go up, as do foreclosures.[4] Families break apart, and thousands of people become addicted. Why would the Commonwealth, whose mission is “to promote the common good” partner and promote a product that leads to these outcomes for thousands of its citizens?

Legislation can’t “fix” the addiction problem. Predatory slots make their profits off players who play until they are broke. If we “fix” the addiction problem, we also ruin the business model. If we ruin the business model, there is no profit to tax for state revenue.

Our communities need jobs that actually pay well. Despite what casino executives promote, many of the jobs in casinos pay very little.[5] The wage data they cite is skewed by high executive pay.

Casino workers often can’t afford to live in the communities where they work. Card dealers earn on average $15,810 per year – not nearly enough to support a family in most Massachusetts communities.[6] A family of two with an income of $15,810 is income eligible for Food Stamps, WIC, Fuel Assistance, Utility Shutoff Protection, MassHealth, Section 8, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, Public Housing, and the Earned Income Credit – all of which costs Massachusetts taxpayers money.


[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q74wZkg07vs

[2] Grinols, Earl L., Mustard, David B. and Dilley, Cynthia Hunt, “Casinos, Crime and Community Costs.” June 2000.

[3] Utilizing proposed casino locations (3) and extending a 50 mile radius around each, this area includes 319 cities and towns (approximately 6,327,100 people or 97% of the population).  If you accept that 5% in the 50 mile radius will be problem gamblers, this totals 316,355 residents. (6,327,100 x .05 = 316,355)

[4] National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report, commissioned by the United States Congress.1999

[5] Kneale, Klause. “America’s Best and Worst Paying Jobs.” Forbes. May 4, 2009.

[6] US Department of Labor. “May 2008 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates – Casino Hotels.” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics5_721120.htm.

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