Gambling is “Not” the Answer for the States

Twenty years ago I hated to see gambling legalized in the state I grew up in (Iowa) and now when I return to visit I see it is one of the principle reasons many of the state’s residences have changed; not for the good but for the worst.

I’m for gambling, basically, and I enjoy going to Las Vegas occasionally and winning a little or loosing a little, but I’m in the middle economic class of Americans (or use to be?).

My major concern is; many times I see poor individuals in the state where I live (California) buying large numbers of lottery tickets (California has not been legalized gambling) with the hope of striking it rich, when in reality they don’t have enough money to feed their family.

Should states open up more avenues of “chance?” No, this will only create an increased number of homeless residents and in turn help generate a higher burden on our social welfare system, which is going to take enough of a beating in the next couple of years ahead.

For me states institutionalizing gambling have a very “narrow minded” approach to solving their problems.

Here are some excerpts on an article published by the AP Online Newswire Service, which disturb me:

State lawmakers bet gambling can help with budgets

Jan 25, 2:24 PM EST
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) — A tell-tale sign America’s chips are down: States are increasingly turning to gambling to plug budget holes.

Proposals to allow or expand slots or casinos are percolating in at least 14 states, tempting legislators and governors at a time when many must decide between cutting services and raising taxes

Analysts say the latest round of gambling initiatives are noteworthy in volume and ambition – a sign that the industry aims to capitalize on states’ badly bruised economies.

Ohio’s casino advocates, including lobbyists working for Penn National Gambling Inc., are pushing a variety of large-scale development projects. In Georgia, a developer working with Dover Downs Inc., wants to transform a blighted section of downtown Atlanta with a 29-story hotel that would attract tourists with more than 5,500 video lottery terminals.

Gambling proponents are quick to tout its bells and whistles: a $54 billion annual industry that employs more than 350,000 people, with most state gambling revenues coming from lotteries, racetracks and betting devices such as slot and video poker machines. Twelve states reap tax money from full-fledged casinos, and 23 others have casinos on Native American reservations, which generally do not pay taxes to states.

But while advocates argue that casinos will help attract jobs and revitalize downtrodden areas, religious groups and other critics fear gambling has a disproportionately negative impact on lower-income people, and does not provide long-term economic growth.

They point to research that shows casinos attract crime, foster gambling addiction problems and divert money from other businesses.

“We’ve got gambling in 48 states, and you’d think if it worked, you wouldn’t have budget problems or education problems,” said Tom Gray, a field director for StopPredatoryGambling.org.

Lawmakers in other states are talking about reversing hard-fought crusades to tighten restrictions on gambling.

Amid the rush to embrace gambling because of short-term budget problems, some experts say a long-term perspective is needed.


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January 2009
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