Should There Be More Legalized Gambling?

Even though the American Gaming Association recently stated that gambling revenues were down 5.5% last year, a growing number of state and city governments are looking at casinos and gambling as a way to spur economic growth during this not exactly golden age.

Here in New York City they’ve just approved a plan to install 4,500 slot machines at the Aqueduct Race Track. The city and state are hopeful this will keep New Yorkers from traveling to New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut to get their gamble on. Genting, the Malaysia-based company behind the proposal, is eventually hoping they’ll be able to add table games to the slots.

Speaking of New Jersey, there is much debate in the Garden State over whether or not to expand legalized gambling beyond the limits of Atlantic City. There are those who want to develop a casino at the Meadowlands complex in the north part of the state, hoping to take advantage of the dense population of the NYC metro area. Then there are people like Donald Trump who believe that having casinos outside of Atlantic City would only serve to destroy the beachfront gambling destination.

But the bigger question is whether or not legalized gambling is a good idea. And what would happen to places like Las Vegas or Atlantic City if casinos were in every town?


Malaysia-based Genting New York signed off to operate 4,500-slot machines at Aqueduct Race Track [NY Daily News]

N.J. split widens over gambling [Philadelphia Inquirer]

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  1. sonneillon says:

    If people want to throw away their money gambling. Let them. Most states could use the extra tax money even if gambling is down.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Unless you think that residents are hoarding a lot of surplus money, an increase in gambling taxes will just mean a decrease in income and sales taxes. While you might have been able to drain money out of other states, every state wants in on the action now, and trying to fund government by playing games is insane.

      • sonneillon says:

        Nobody is forcing these people to gamble. And people are willing to travel across the country to gamble. Might as well make it convenient. Who are you to tell others how they should waste their money.

        • RandomHookup says:

          But there’s only so much of the pie to slice up. Destination casinos make sense because you get revenue you probably wouldn’t have captured otherwise. But all the states fighting for the same gambling money means that the only spending will be on gambling itself…not all the other areas where the state makes money. And isn’t the market shrinking already? Seems like a lot of energy for something that doesn’t add a great deal to the bottom line.

          • sonneillon says:

            Then the Casinos will fail as there is not a market for them and a different business will take over.

          • JMILLER says:

            Based on that philosophy there would be no reason to have restaurants. People will still eat whether there is a restaurant there or not.

            • RandomHookup says:

              I’m not sure I follow… Gambling isn’t something spend money on every day. There are (conceivably) only so many folks out there willing to spend money gambling. If every state competes for them, spending time and resources to bring them in, those dollars are going to be spread thinner and the casinos won’t be profitable. If the state didn’t have to get involved and their weren’t infrastructure and social costs, then have at it. But it can’t be a great long term revenue driver.

        • GameHen says:

          Yes, but as they throw their money away on gambling hoping for that “big payout”, the house rakes in their money, makes some CEO/investors very rich, gives a small % to the state which is squandered on “studies” and we the taxpayers have to pick up the welfare tab.

      • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

        Actually your statement makes no sense. People are still going to spend the money they normally spend which results in the same income tax and sales tax revenue. Adding gambling into the mix just will create extra money. Simple formula actually.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Gambling is a tax on stupidity. I am all for it!

  2. dragonfire81 says:

    Won’t this only cause more crime and other problems in the long run. I live in a place that has plenty of Casinos and I still frequently hear people talk about how much better things were before they rolled in here.

  3. full.tang.halo says:

    Make poker a different class of gaming, it doesn’t deserve to be in the same class as slots/vs “the house” table games.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      THIS. The house takes a percentage of money on the table, but you are not playing against the house. You are playing against the other players at the table.

      It’s a game of great skill, not a mindly button-pushing money-waster like slot machines.

    • hewhoroams says:

      I both appreciate your stance on poker and your avatar.

  4. TheDoctor says:

    I live in Texas. They have gambling in Oklahoma, the have gambling in Louisiana, we are losing all our possible tax dollars to these other states for no other reason than we are being a bunch a prudes. I dont care about the old image attached to gambling, it doesnt breed crime or give off a negative image anymore, its just a fun weekend for people. Legalize it!

    • Riroon13 says:

      I live in Louisiana. The only thing you are missing is a world of hurt.

      - I’ve been to a casino where I walked into a restroom and saw a grown man crying his eyes out because he just bet — and lost — his home, and did not know how he was going to tell his wife and kids

      - Almost every other week in the news there is a bookkeeper for a business or even a church caught embezzling thousands to pay off gambling debt. The criminal is usually a college-educated, middle aged white woman, married with children that noone would suspect

      - I’ve seen huge footprints left by casinos that have gone out of business

      - I’ve seen crooked politician reword laws so that not a dime of revenue from the casino ever hits anything but their pockets

      - I’ve seen one governor go to jail for taking bribes when issuing casino licenses

      It’s not worth the misery

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        It’s worth it to the people who aren’t corrupt and have adequate impulse control.

        You know, the vast majority?

    • P.G. says:

      It’s so depressing watching the retirees and unemployed pumping their meager checks into the machines. I am living in Tulsa, OK, and I can’t stand to eat in the casinos.

      Indian casinos bring a whole different crowd than Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They are not tourist destinations and have little to offer other than throwing your money away.

      In what world does Tulsa, OK need a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino? It is still owned by the Cherokee nation who only uses the money on themselves and the meager tax revenues it produces have already been spent before they are paid by the enormous cost of widening I-44 and replacing the interchange near the casino which used to be a sleepy golf course.

      • shadowboxer524 says:

        Hard Rock is a terrible casino. It’s huge and looks nice, but it doesn’t pay out shit.

  5. Sajanas says:

    Maybe, if it were heavily taxed. My problem is it seems like a industry that really doesn’t create much, and has the potential to completely suck away the income of a lot people without giving them anything in return. Who ends up making the money at the end of the day too? Casino owners? I’d rather see the states put their energy into revitalizing other elements of the economy first, rather than draining away the income of people that can’t control themselves. I think more casinos will just make a few owners wealthy at the expense of making the country poorer.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      “My problem is it seems like a industry that really doesn’t create much”

      Except for the thousands upon thousands of new jobs. And millions in tax revenue.

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      Casinos really aren’t different from any other big company. They create new jobs, make money and pay the state taxes.

      Would you criticize a Fortune 500 company moving to your state because “. . . who ends up making the money at the end of the day? The company?”

    • AI says:

      A casino is no different from any other place of entertainment that you have to pay for, such as a movie theatre. Actually, casinos are probably cheaper entertainment than movie theatres at this point.

    • jurupa says:

      People are already throwing their money away and going into debt.

    • huadpe says:

      As an economist, I would say it provides an entertainment service, very much like a movie theater, except with the world’s most complicated pricing scheme.

      There is legitimately some entertainment value in gambling. The price you pay for this entertainment is your losses less your winnings. Statistically, this is usually in the range of 25 to 5% of the money you bet, but it can be as high as 100% and of course you can win money.

      Consider that you can pay $20 to go to a movie for 2 hours, or $20 to play games in a casino for a while, and lose both $20 at the end.

      Some people value the entertainment of the casino in direct proportion to the amount they bet. These people tend to get in trouble.

  6. lupis42 says:

    Why should the government tell people what they’re allowed to piss their money away on?

    • evnmorlo says:

      Because they like money. “Legalized gambling” still makes gambling illegal except in government-sanctioned venues.

  7. Lollerface says:

    Why not? People who want to gamble online will just do it with a foreign website. Keep some of that revenue in the U.S.

    • CookiePuss says:

      The gubment actually tried making offshore gambling harder by having credit card companies deny those transactions. It can be skirted though. I never had a problem with offshore sports betting. The lines and deals were so much better than local or even Vegas odds. Never had any problems with quick payouts either.

      I always wondered how NJ cries poverty so much when they have Atlantic City casinos, tons of resort/beach towns, toll roads out the ass, etc. I think if you have enough corrupt people in office all the casino revenue combined would somehow disappear in a multicolored puff of smoke–like in a Vegas magic act.

      • fatediesel says:

        Online gaming makes so much sense. Barney Franks and some senators are trying to introduce it. There is no good reason not to allow it and tax the hell out of it. The people that want to do it are doing it anyway, and the new laws aimed at preventing it will never work. This isn’t the “everybody’s doing it anyway, so it should be legal” argument, it’s that it’s legal in lots of places and most of the world, so why not make it legal online here, and charge the sites huge license fees and taxes while having the authority to make sure everything is legit.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I think it would be fine as long as it was in an appropriate setting. At the mall? Not really. At a race track is fine.

    Now I think what people really need to be talking about is the type of gambling a lot more people are prone to do because you don’t need to step inside a casino or race track to do it, which is betting on sports teams.

  9. brinks says:

    I’m in Columbus, OH and we recently voted for legalized gambling and a brand new casino. After a change of location, the casino is now going to be built on the West Side, and area that’s like a ghost town. There are a ton of abandoned buildings and “For Rent” signs in empty shops that have been up for years. There’s a mall with – I kid you not – about 5 stores still open. That side of town had been in a downward spiral long before the economy tanked. Since the casino plans were announced, new businesses have actually been popping up over there.

    People aren’t crying about an increase in crime that a casino brings, since the area was pretty sketchy to begin with. People are just happy that there will be more jobs and new life in that part of town. I know gambling is going to cause some financial woes for some, but I have to say I’d like to see more if it if it means jobs and tax revenue.

  10. milkcake says:

    I’m okay with people doing their business but gambling can be an addiction that can destroy family. I say they can do business as long as they limit the loss to every individual to around $2000 per year. After that loss, they are not allowed to gamble anymore

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      But what about personal responsibility? I agree that gambling can destroy families and finances, but so could alcoholism and drugs. So can poor money management and spending too much. Should businesses really be responsible for saving people from themselves? “Oh if only Grandpa was stopped before things got out of hand…” is fine to say, but addicts will do whatever it takes to get that fix. Whose responsibility is it to keep them from destroying their family?

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      I think there’s something like that already in place. It’s called, “After you’ve defaulted on your third mortgage and your house is foreclosed on, you’re not allowed to gamble any more. Because you have no more money.”

      Welcome to Earth – where you’re allowed to do as many stupid things as you’d like, as long as you don’t crash your car into me while doing them.

    • aloria says:

      So can an addiction to shopping. I don’t see anyone putting a cap on how much I can spend at the mall.

    • MuffinSangria says:

      Would that be the same for a high roller? They can loose well over $2K on one hand or roll of the dice. For a lot of them $2K is not going to break the bank.

  11. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    As a person who has seen gambling destroy the lives of at least two friends, and has even cost me dearly, I see no reason that we need to have widespread gambling. The taxes that casinos are required to pay may look good on paper, but like other large corporations, they’re equally as good at getting out of tax payments. In WI we’ve had problems getting taxes out of these establishments for years.

    By the way, when a “bingo hall” opens and they install power outlets every 3 feet, bingo is only a short term plan.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      As a person who does all things in moderation, and knows many others who subscribe to the same philosophy, I see no reason why we shouldn’t have widespread gambling.

    • prezuiwf says:

      I’ve had relatives die of lung cancer but I have no problem with cigarette companies existing. If people want to engage in risky behavior, knowing the risks, that’s their (unfortunate) choice. If they’re not harming anybody else, there’s no reason for the government to deprive them of that liberty.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I understand the feeling that “If only (debilitating vice of choice) was not allowed, (insert name of relative or friend here) would be okay…” but people make bad decisions all the time.

    • George4478 says:

      Ah, the old “I know someone who couldn’t handle [insert topic here] so no one should be allowed to [insert topic here]!”

      I see it every day and it never makes any more sense than the day before.

  12. keith4298 says:

    Considering the NYC OTB is currently in bankruptcy — why don’t we leave this to the mob.

    • prizgrizbiz says:

      I never liked the deference given to horse racing among people who otherwise decry gambling at every opportunity. Especially those in government.

  13. prezuiwf says:

    Gambling is one of those many things that isn’t universal in this country only because so many people simply feel “icky” about it. It’s an enormous revenue generator and there’s no reason to deny people the ability to gamble if it’s their choice– heck, they can already do it online if they want to, and betting on the outcome of a baseball game or roll of the dice isn’t much different than betting on a stock price anyway. Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and various Native American tribes have been riding this racket for years and they’re not exactly complaining about the cashflow. Why not do it everywhere?

    • RandomHookup says:

      Part of the reason they are profitable is the novelty of them. If every state okayed casino gambling, it wouldn’t be such a dig deal and the outrageous profits wouldn’t be there anymore. The problem with gambling is that everybody thinks it will solve all the monetary worries and bring in tons of jobs. I’m sure there’s a bump, but it does add burden to the state (often with tax concessions). It’s like taxes on smoking — if everyone wises up, where’s the money going to come from?

  14. savvy9999 says:

    I would love to take your money in a friendly game of poker. Please sign up!

  15. smo0 says:

    No…

    and stop fucking advocating the destruction of the Nevada economy….

    I am 100% opposed to gambling outside of Las Vegas and Atlantic City…

    From a personal perspective, the reservation gambling is helping with revenue for the reservation…

    but from someone who faces the reality of a broken economy based on tourism which is currently at it’s lowest point…. no… NO NO NO.

    Also, gambling tends to attract a certain element… something this city has had 80+ years to deal with an regulate…

    if you start introducing that into the “Middle America Sububan” types… and in their neighborhoods -…. let’s just that, that Simpson’s episode wasn’t far off.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      The “casinos” in NYC and Yonkers are nothing like the ones in Vegas. People will still travel to Vegas for the shiny phoniness and the unbridled hedonism, while the people who enjoy selling their food stamps on the black market in order to press a button for 11 hours can enjoy the local slots-only gaming rooms.

      It’s win-win.

      • smo0 says:

        And we still have that here….

        I’m sure the over all experience cannot be matched elsewhere – but I see this as only the beginning.

        We get a lot of weekend tourists from L.A. they come here from the gambling, clubs and 24 hour drinking…

        If you increase that availability closer to home, what’s the point in leaving.

        A clear sign of this would be if no more “Last Call” was next on the list…

  16. selianth says:

    This is the big thing in Massachusetts right now. The legislature sent a bill to the governor that would allow 3 “resort-style” casinos (along the lines of Foxwoods, which is where most people go) and slot machines at racetracks. Patrick refused to sign a bill that included the slot machines and sent it back to the legislature, which basically killed the whole thing. (He announced near the end that he’d sign something that included slots at ONE racetrack, but apparently the house & senate didn’t hear him? I dunno.) It seems ridiculous how much time and effort have been spent on something that just completely fizzled out.

  17. NotEd says:

    When IO lived in Maryland all they could talk about was the contant fighting for or against legalized gambling. I was all for it until I went the Charleston, WV to the racetrack and discovered I really didn’t like it much.
    Having gambled in Las Vegas and Atlantic City before there was no competition to keep the casino interesting. When casinos are grouped together at least they attempt to have unique feature to draw people in. Add that to the fact that racetrack betting is usually limited to machine (slot and video poker) it gets kind of boring pretty quickly.
    Now thgat I live south of Chicago we actually are near full casinos, which is a bit better. Still I find that since they are spread out there is less competition to keep you in one specific one. I liked the fact that if several are near each other you can find loss leader games and machines like penny and nickel slot or low dollar ammount table games.
    Still I’ve seen Joliet, IL and I would think a town with 2 casinos would at least be doing a little better than I’ve seen in some of those neighborhoods.

  18. Hoss says:

    More political questions? Why?

  19. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    For me, it’s not the just legalized gambling that needs to be expanded, it’s the ability to walk up the street with a drink in my hand. The ability to carry alcohol everywhere is a huge part of Vegas’ appeal to me.

  20. teqjack says:

    I hear New York’s Off-Track-Betting operation loses money – who but government could do that?

    OK, the OTB does not actually lose it. More like, the government skims 100% of the profit, lets losses accrue, then bails it out. Rinse, repeat.

    • peebozi says:

      i just assumed the politicians, as they vote to allow gambling, take a piece late on down the road whern they move into the private sector!

    • Hoss says:

      The NY OTB has lost money for decades — way before competition from casinos and internet wagering. You’re right, how do you lose money collecting parimutuel bets in low rent offices and your only overhead is a few televisions and low pay employees? Corruption is how

  21. peebozi says:

    allow anyone to operate a gambling hall and I’d consider it. keeping these run by the mob & politicians does not a free market make.

  22. rdclark says:

    I am of two minds about this.

    On one hand, I enjoy a day at Delaware Park, a lovely place with horse racing, table gaming, relatively cheap and decent food, and no smoking inside the casino. We are reasonably prosperous and can afford to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a fun day out.

    On the other hand, the easier you make it for certain people to ruin their lives through gambling losses, the more that will do so. Yes, it’s their own fault. Yes, they can always find another way to waste the same money (state lotteries being the obvious one). But casinos are designed very purposefully to entice and feed the compulsive side of peoples’ natures, and they succeed. When people can walk or take a city bus to the casino, you’ve removed a barrier that was probably saving a lot of marginally poor people from themselves.

    In the end, though, people will gamble their money away, and each state has an obligation to make sure that money stays home as much as possible. New Jersey was sucking a lot of money out of Pennsylvania and Delaware; now, not so much. Atlantic City will have to compete harder, which is good, I suppose, if you like that sort of scene.

    So yes, since it’s not going away, it should be legal everywhere. Now let’s talk about prostitution. And then marijuana.

  23. Gulluc says:

    Does anyone know how much research has gone into increased court costs and other such costs due to the moral decay related to gambling? It seems like state governments are so concerned with increasing revenue that they are not looking at the trickle down costs. I am sure court costs due to divorces go up with every slot machine added. Plus bankruptcies and foreclosures must increase also.

  24. FrugalFreak says:
  25. duncanblackthorne says:

    Gambling is stupid. Money is tight enough these days and too many people are gullible to start with, we don’t need gambling available everywhere.

  26. ob1canobeans says:

    Hmm, substitute alcohol for gambling in many of the posts and it sounds as if prohibition could make a comeback. Most, if not all, states run gambling now, but call it lotto, powerball or something similar. The profits supposedly fund education-hah. Nobody’s taxes have fallen as a result of this government-run gambling, most of the money goes back into the programs to pay for advertisements for these loser’s games. I would rather the government allow privatized betting and gaming halls and tax them in the same way that alcohol is taxed.

  27. JoeTheDragon says:

    Lets take all the OTB and let peopel bet on all sports at them!

  28. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    How topical! Our government here in Ontario is going to take on PokerStars et al by establishing their own online gambling site come 2012! “Click on our free software and bets your money and takes yer chances, knowing you’re supporting all the wonderful services we provide,” as I guess the come on will be. Oh, did you know the government run casinos in this province lost $100M the last year stats were available (2006?) Roll the dice, Premier Dad, we’re guessing you’re gonna roll snake eyes.

  29. Rickdude says:

    Just call it an idiot tax and let it happen.

  30. Riroon13 says:

    Casinos simply do not work.

    In Louisiana, we have about a dozen casinos, another half-dozen or so race tracks, the lottery, video poker parlors every other block (a loophole in the state’s gambling law turns truck stops into casinos). We also have bars that never close.

    We also have our most ethical governor in years who took many hands out the state cookie jar.

    Our state capital should just be one money-printing machine, right?

    Yet, the state is facing it’s worst deficit ever. Over 100 college professors will be laid off by year’s end; elementary and secondary ed is being cut to the bone with the state government refusing to pay stipends for National Board Certified teachers as they were promised; retirement funds for teachers police and firefighters is being reworked; hospital funding is nil.

    And, yeah, isn’t like construction on Vegas projects like frozen for the next 5-10 years?

  31. EverCynicalTHX says:

    I don’t gamble but appreciate those that play our lottery in NC.

    I say bring it, tax it and shore up that whole Social Security fund they’ve stolen over the years.

    I have another 20 years before retirement and hope to see slot and poker machines at every corner bar!

    Thanks you! ;)

  32. MedicallyNeedy says:

    Hasn’t anybody seen “Back to the Future 2″?

  33. Dallas_shopper says:

    If Texas was going to legalize gambling or marijuana, I’d rather they legalized marijuana. I think pot is a more lucrative revenue stream.

    I don’t really care if they legalize gambling in Texas, I wouldn’t visit a casino anyway. But those developments are so gauche and there’s so much traffic around. Just legalize pot and be done with it if MONEY is what you’re after.

  34. smo0 says:

    A second read… Malaysia based company….

    that does not sound like American economy boosting in the long run. They are probably going to make their money from any taxes…

    Furthers my point that this is a horrible, horrible idea.

  35. Blious says:

    No, we should keep doing what Republicans want us to do…..ignore it and pretend like it doesn’t exist even though millions of it in revenue could easily be had