More Isn’t Always Better

According to a recent study by Wisconsin Public Research Institute, every Wisconsin resident is within a two-hour drive of a Native-American gaming facility.   The casino market in Wisconsin is saturated, and introducing a new casino into a saturated market has consequences both economic and social.

In a saturated market, any new revenue that is generated by the new casino would in fact be taking away revenue, jobs, and any economic multipliers from other established casinos and their respective communities.  There would be no net gain to the people of the state.

Our elected officials should consider the social and economic impact of gambling, which are difficult to measure.  The long-term revenue generated from gambling is uncertain, with no net gain, and the potential economic and social costs require careful consideration.

Gambling addiction is associated with bankruptcy, foreclosure, spousal abuse, child neglect, crime and other problem behaviors such as alcohol and drug addictions.  Earl Grinols, Baylor University professor and author of Gambling in America: Cost and Benefits, estimates the addicted gamblers cost the US taxpayers between $32.4 billion and $53.8 billion a year.

Wisconsin’s own Council on Problem Gambling shows an alarming increase in problem gambling with a direct correlation to the expansion of gambling in Wisconsin.

  • Approximately 333,000 Wisconsin residents have a gambling problem.
  • Calls to the WI Council on Problem Gambling’s Helpline have increased 329% since 1996.
  • The average debt of callers contacting the Helpline is $46,967.

Government-sponsored casinos and lotteries are contributing to rising inequality. According to the Blinken report released last month by The Rockefeller Institute: “The economics literature supports the argument that gambling activities, particularly lottery activities, are regressive in nature and attract poorer population. Therefore, gambling often leads to reduction of disposable income for low-income households, particularly at a time when their income is not growing and is even declining in real terms.”

More Gambling won’t solve government budget issues.  In fact, it exasperates the problem.