The Albany Times-Union reports on a new study on gambling. (H/T Al Mohler podcast)
Few things are clear about the expansion of casinos in New York, but additional slot machines will add significantly to problem gambling and may not be economically rewarding for the state, according to a fresh study by the Institute for American Values.
Note, the IAV’s president is a pro-gay-marriage moderate. Don’t be fooled by the conservative name.
The institute’s new report, “Why Casinos Matter,” is based on several government and academic studies here and abroad. The authors arrived at several conclusions:
The new American casino is mostly a center filled with slot machines — essentially sophisticated computers designed to addict players. The machines figure out betting patterns and provide just enough in rewards to keep a person hooked for hours. “The more you play, the more you lose,” the report says, backing up the statement with findings by MIT anthropologist Natasha Schull. Schull details her observations in the 2012 book “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas.”
Modern slot machines “engineer the psychological experience of being in the ‘zone’ — a trancelike state that numbs feeling and blots out time/space. For some heavy slot players, the goal is not winning money,” the study said.
Casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base, drawing 40 to 60 percent of slot machine revenues from these people, many of whom are low rollers.
Living near a casino or working at a casino increases the chance of becoming problem gambler. Those who live within 10 miles of a casino are twice as likely to be a problem gambler than those who do not.
Problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim. The problem gamblers frequently go to a casino, and their lives and livelihoods may be adversely affected by their betting. They are not necessarily the heavy gamblers who are pathological and who suffer from increasing preoccupations to gamble and a loss of control.
The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure, but many costs pop up during the longer term that are harder to quantify. Economic stimulus fades after the casino becomes a dominant business that drives out established local businesses, such as restaurants, replacing them with pawnshops, auto title lenders and check-cashing stores. And since problem gambling develops over four to seven years, the stress on families and finances may gradually become apparent.
State regulation of casinos creates a conflict of interest. Government is supposed to protect people from harmful business practices, but the state is a partner with casinos or is co-sponsoring gambling. In New York, the Cuomo administration announced last week that it anticipates $430 million a year in annual revenues — $192 million for local governments and $238 million for schools or property tax relief — from four new upstate casinos. The New York Division of the Lottery reported almost $9 billion in revenues last year, a record, with more than $3 billion of that going to public education.
Although people on the left, like Mario Cuomo, like to talk about helping the poor, they actually favor policies that hurt the poor. It’s very important to separate what people say in front of cameras with what effects their policies actually cause. Good effects are more important than good intentions.