Commercialized gambling is a naked money grab disguised as economic development.
Let’s contrast it with any other business that sells a product or a service. Take a blanket-selling business, for example. If you go out to buy a blanket for you or your family, other people don’t have to give up their blankets for you to get one. But imagine a blanket-selling business where in order for a few people to get a blanket, mostly everyone else had to turn in their own blankets and go without.
The primary winner in a blanket-selling business such as this are the people who operate the blanket redistribution scheme. It’s an exchange where, over a period of time, they are guaranteed statistically to end up with all the blankets.
Despite the inherent predatory and dishonest nature of the scheme, it escapes from being shut down because the blanket sellers provide state governments a percentage of their bounty. In fact, only those who partner with states are allowed to run the scheme and they’re usually handed regional monopolies to do it.
Those who never buy a blanket also lose. They end up paying extra for those who gave up their blankets and now need help. They also have to subsidize the state budget problems that result when the gimmick revenues inevitably dry up.
This is the essence of the government-sanctioned gambling scheme.
The analogy underscores how the economic impact of commercialized gambling is similar to throwing your money on the street so that someone else can pick it up — it’s redistributing wealth without creating it.
The casino lobby feeds on the job insecurity of Americans because people, whether gambling or seeking employment, have fewer viable ways to make good money.
By relying on slot machines and other forms of gambling as its primary revenue source, a casino may employ some citizens but it doesn’t produce economic growth.
Any activity the state puts money into will stimulate the economy. Government can stimulate the economy with good things, things that help people build wealth.
We are told one of the primary rationales for state-sanctioned casinos is to “create jobs” but facts show that casinos leave behind far more gambling addicts than jobs. According to the most recent numbers made available by the Illinois Gambling Board, the total enrollment of citizens in the state’s voluntary Self-Exclusion Program was 11,119 and the total number of full and part-time casino jobs was 7,137 – almost 35% higher. Thousands more gambling addicts have banned themselves from the state’s casinos because their lives have been ruined than there are people who work inside the state’s casinos.
But that figure is literally the tip of the iceberg. The actual amount of gambling addicts created by state-sanctioned casinos is far greater than the number of citizens who have self-excluded. That’s because only about 10% of people experiencing problems with gambling seek help from problem gambling services- 90% never even come forward for help.
State-sanctioned casinos also create unfairness for other businesses. When casino lobbyists call for a “limited number of casinos” to be allowed into a state, what they are really doing is attempting to rig the system to hand out special privileges to a few powerful political insiders at the expense of everyone else. Government, in this case, is not merely permitting private, consensual behavior. It is granting monopolies and awarding regulatory advantages to favored firms.