Proponents of off-reservation casinos paint gambling expansion as win-win for local communities- promising jobs, millions of dollars in economic development and reinvestment, and a never-ending source of revenue for local governments. But as so many communities have discovered the hard way, the honeymoon is often short lived, if it happens at all.
In Wisconsin, there are two such proposals pending before the Bureau of Indian Affairs for approval: Beloit and Shullsburg.
Casinos market their establishment with gimmicks like free transportation, food, music and live shows, and the chance to win big. But the fact is, these casinos are a buzz kill for local businesses and property values that eventually lead to a decline in overall tax revenue – especially those communities with a stagnant economy. They tend to extract wealth from the community by encouraging repeat visits by local residents. They weaken nearby businesses – Atlantic City had 242 eating and drinking establishments before 1977, when the casinos began operating. In 1981, the number had fallen to 160, and by 1996 the number had declined to 142. Despite repeated bailouts by the state and a recent $30 million state-funded marketing campaign, Atlantic City remains economically unstable (read more here)
Casinos aren’t approved by government entities as a local source of wholesome entertainment – it’s the promise of revenue that’s so appealing to them. Sadly, those who do the approving don’t take into consideration the negative impact a casino has on the very members of their community they are elected to represent.
As Nobel-Prize Winning Economist Paul Samuelson noted: “there is a substantial economic case to be made against gambling…it involves simply the sterile transfers of money or goods between individuals, creating no new money or goods. Although it creates no output, gambling does nevertheless absorb time and resources.”
The negative impact of casinos extend far beyond the economic impact. Study after study shows localized increase in problem gambling and crime, and it places added risk to the most vulnerable members of our community: the youth and the elderly.