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Why Does Casino-Free Philadelphia Oppose Casinos?
Posted by Dan on August 10, 2012
For years now Casino-Free Philadelphia has been answering the question "What is wrong with casinos?"
But not everyone has heard our answer even in bits and pieces, much less the whole argument.
So we are beginning a series of blog posts that put all the pieces together, explains the research behind our arguments against casinos, and details how and why the economic, social, political, and personal costs outweigh purported gains.
In fact, talk of those "gains" is what most people hear about casinos; and, so, the case for casinos, (as well as other forms of legalized gambling) invariably goes like this:
Casinos will create jobs and economic development.
Casinos will generate new revenue for cash strapped governments.
Gambling, or "gaming," is harmless entertainment.
Given this, the case against casinos can be stated simply: those claims don't hold up.
To understand why they don’t hold up, perhaps the best place to start is to ask “How do casinos make money?” and “Where is this revenue and job creating money coming from?”
Despite the rhetoric of politicians and the gambling industry, casinos do not magically create jobs and revenue. These come from gamblers -our neighbors and fellow citizens who live here in Philadelphia or nearby. And most of it comes from people suffering from a serious mental illness: gambling addiction.
This is not incidental. Profiting from gambling addiction is an intrinsic part of a casino’s business model. The casinos springing up across our country, like SugarHouse casino in Philadelphia, exist only as long as they are permitted to exploit and create gambling addiction. The are inevitably predatory – profiting from gambling addiction and targeting nearby residents.
Since casinos are predatory, they come with costs – both private costs and public costs that we all end up paying one way or another. Those costs answer the question “What is wrong with casinos?”
Once we consider these costs we find:
- Rather than creating jobs and economic development, often a casino will harm the local economy and end up costing local jobs.
Atlantic City, NJ provides one stark example of how this can happen. Casinos take money that would otherwise have been spent in a local economy and transfer it to wealthy investors who spend outside the local economy. Thus, they squeeze out local businesses and the jobs those businesses provide. Yet, while the casino owners and politicians loudly and visibly tout the few jobs created when a casino first hires staff, the jobs lost by local businesses vanish without comment.
- Rather then creating revenue, the public costs of casinos offset, (and sometimes run higher than) the tax casinos pay.
Those costs include higher expenditures on law enforcement and the judicial system among other costs to state and local governments.
- Since casinos profit from gambling addiction, they devastate the lives of the people they pretend to value: the lives of their patrons, and the families and friends of those suffering from gambling addiction.
Bankruptcy, foreclosure, higher than average rates of domestic violence, and elevated risk of suicide have all been linked to gambling addiction.
We realize that this argument presents a serious indictment of the casino industry, (as well as the politicians that support and promote the industry). It deserves our serious attention. We give that attention here in this blog. This blog will support each piece of the argument with evidence, explain the flaws of the casino industry claims, and leave no question as to why Casino-Free Philadelphia believes there are some things very, very wrong with casinos.
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