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Richard Farr

Lost Opportunities
By Richard Farr
Jul 4, 2004 - 11:23:00 PM

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers have put their state on the map, proving they are working to better their local economies. 61,000 slot machines are to be introduced providing thousands of jobs plus relieving property-tax for home owners. Their plans are to reduce the property-tax for home owners by $1 billion cutting tax by 20%.

There are 11 states with commercial gaming and 23 states with tribal gaming, gaming revenues have risen over the past 10yrs from $30.4 billion in 1992 to $68.7 billion in 2002 according to the American Gaming Association.

Employment:

  • Commercial casinos provide direct employment for nearly 370,000 people and generate an additional 450,000 jobs in related businesses.
  • During the past decade, the casino work force has increased more than 79 percent, from 198,657 employees in 1990 to 356,312 in 2000.
  • From 1999 to 2000, more than 13,000 new jobs were created in the commercial casino industry.
  • Casino employees earned more than $11.5 billion in wages (including tips and benefits) in 2001, more than $500 million more than the previous year.
  • According to a 1996 economic impact study by Andersen, gaming industry employees earn higher average salaries than their counterparts in the motion picture industry, other amusement and recreation sectors, and the hotel/motel industry.

Gaming industry employment has brought significant benefits to employees beyond wages, including health insurance, job skills and training, and access to day care, according to the 1997 Gaming Industry Employee Impact Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The same survey found that gaming industry employment also benefited local economies by lowering public assistance payouts, increasing sales of homes, cars and major appliances, and increasing charitable giving and volunteerism.

Tax Contributions:

In the 11 states with commercial casinos in operation in 2002, casinos contributed more than $4 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments. The tax rate for the casino industry ranged in 2002 from a low of 6.25 percent in Nevada to a high of 50 percent in Illinois. The revenue from those taxes benefits education, public safety, economic development and infrastructure improvements, among other state and local programs.

Tax by state goes as follows:

2002 Calendar Year Gaming Tax Revenue

Colorado

$98.2 million

Illinois

$666.1 million

Indiana

$544.7 million

Iowa

$249.3 million

Louisiana

$414.2 million

Michigan

$249.1 million

Mississippi

$331.7 million

Missouri

$357.6 million

Nevada

$718.7 million

New Jersey

$403.7 million

South Dakota

$5.1 million

TOTAL

$4 billion


Crime:

Anecdotal information and popular myth have perpetuated claims by gambling opponents that casinos are linked to increased crime rates in communities and organized crime. However, nearly all recent publicly and privately funded studies, as well as the testimony of law enforcement agents from around the country, refute these claims.

  • There is little documentation of a causal relationship between crime and gaming.
  • Research conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago for the federal National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) found that ". the casino effect is not statistically significant for any of the . crime outcome measures."
  • In its final report released in June 1999, the NGISC noted that it had attempted to investigate the relationship between crime and legalized gaming through studies by NORC and the National Research Council. These studies concluded that "insufficient data exists to quantify or define that relationship." A further examination by the General Accounting Office confirmed the NGISC findings.
  • In 1998, 24 sheriffs and chiefs of police from gaming jurisdictions nationwide submitted to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Crime and Gaming: Statement of Findings, which reported no connection between gaming and crime in their jurisdictions. Testimony before the commission by other law enforcement and public officials from gaming communities across the country told a similar story and, in fact, pointed to a decrease in crime in their communities.
  • A March 2000 report by the Public Sector Gaming Study Commission, a nonpartisan organization of state legislators who chair or are members of legislative committees responsible for gaming in their states, stated:" the majority of the information collected during the past decade indicates there is no link between gambling, particularly casino-style gambling, and crime. The security on the premises of gambling facilities, the multiple layers of regulatory control, and the economic and social benefits that gambling seem to offer to communities are effective deterrents to criminal activity."
  • A 1997 study conducted by Peter Reuter at the University of Maryland for the Greater Baltimore Committee concluded the following: "[I]n no case is there any evidence that casinos have had a major impact on the crime rates of towns or metropolitan areas in which they are located."
  • A 2000 National Institute of Justice-funded study reported that "the casinos do not appear to have any general or dramatic effect on crime, especially in communities that do not have a high concentrations of casinos."
  • A 1997 study by Jeremy Margolis, a former director of the Illinois State Police, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Illinois inspector general, found: "[T]here is little valid evidence to support the notion that the presence of casino gaming in a community has any meaningful impact on crime rates."

Crime statistics show that communities with casinos are as safe as-if not safer than-communities that do not have casinos. According to 2002 data collected from nearly 17,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide and published in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report:

  • The crime rate in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which includes crimes committed by the nearly 35 million annual visitors, is lower than many other major American tourist destinations, including Honolulu; Miami; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; and Phoenix.
  • Since 1980, Atlantic City, N.J., has experienced a significant drop in cases of violent and street crime-the murder rate fell 54 percent, instances of robbery fell 56 percent and instances of vehicle theft fell 86 percent-despite an increase in gaming opportunities in the area.
  • Between 1994 and 2002-during which time three casinos were opened-the crime rate in Detroit has dropped by more than one-quarter.
  • Despite a 35 percent population increase in Joliet, Ill., instances of murder, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny theft and vehicle theft all have decreased.
  • Orlando, Fla., which attracts 43 million visitors annually to its theme parks and other non-gaming entertainment, experienced a 3.8 percent increase in vehicle theft between 1994 and 2002, while the national rate dropped 19 percent.
  • Those who attribute an increase in crime to the presence of casinos routinely fail to account for the fact that casinos are popular tourist destinations. When this influx of people is properly accounted for, there is no increase in crime rates when comparing pre- and post-casino periods.
  • A study by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a state agency that works to improve the criminal justice system in Illinois, pointed to several factors linked to the presence of casinos that work to reduce the area crime rate, including higher levels of pedestrian traffic around casinos, economic prosperity, lower unemployment, and an increase in taxes from casinos for more police and security programs.
  • The evidence also does not support a conclusion that the gaming industry contributes to white-collar crime.
  • An August 1999 study, "Casino Gambling and White-Collar Crime: An Examination of the Empirical Evidence," by Professor Jay Albanese of Virginia Commonwealth University examined the impact of casino gaming on white-collar crime. The most comprehensive study to date on the subject, it reported that the evidence does "not support the claim that casino gaming contributes significantly to trends in embezzlement, forgery, and fraud."

The study found an overall net decrease in arrests for white-collar crimes in the largest casino jurisdictions from 1988 to 1996, based on an analysis of arrest data in these communities obtained from the FBI crime reporting unit. The study also found, for the crimes of fraud and forgery, casino jurisdictions reported significant decreases in arrests, whereas the nation as whole experienced considerable increases.

Economic Impact:

After a two-year study of legalized gambling in the United States, the congressionally mandated National Gambling Impact Study Commission found numerous benefits of casino gaming. The following are conclusions reached in both the 1999 NGISC final report and commission-funded research:

  • 'As it has grown, it [gambling] has become more than simply an entertainment past-time: the gambling industry has emerged as an economic mainstay in many communities and plays an increasingly prominent role in state and even regional economies. ...' (NGISC Final Report, Chapter 3: Gambling Regulation, p. 1)
  • 'Research conducted on behalf of the commission confirms the testimony of ... casino workers and government officials that casino gaming creates jobs and reduces the level of unemployment and government assistance in communities that have legalized it.' (NGISC Final Report, Chapter 7: Gambling's Impact on People and Places, p. 9)
  • 'Gambling appears to have net economic benefits for economically depressed communities.' (National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, Pathological Gambling, Executive Summary, p. 3)
  • '... a new casino of even limited attractiveness, placed in a market that is not already saturated, will yield positive economic benefits on net to its host economy.' (Adam Rose and Associates, The Regional Economic Impacts of Casino Gambling: Assessment of the Literature and Establishment of a Research Agenda, p. 22)
  • 'Those communities closest to casinos experienced a 12% to 17% drop in welfare payments, unemployment rates and unemployment insurance.' (National Opinion Research Center, Gambling Impact and Behavior Study, Report to the NGISC, April 1, 1999, p. 70)
  • 'The Commission also heard from a number of local officials in jurisdictions where casinos are located. Among those who informed the commissioners with their testimony were Elgin, Illinois Mayor Kevin Kelly, Mayor Scott King from Gary. Indiana, as well as mayors from Bettendorf, Iowa and Alton, Illinois. The Commission also heard from Mayors A.J. Holloway, Bobby Williams, Bob Short and Eddy Favre of Biloxi, Tunica, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi respectively. Without exception these elected officials expressed support for gambling and recited instances of increased revenues for their cities. They also discussed community improvements made possible since the advent of gambling in their communities and reviewed the general betterment of life for the citizenry in their cities and towns.' (NGISC Final Report, Chapter 7: Gambling's Impact on People and Places )

The commission also made numerous recommendations supporting the conclusion that casino gaming can have a positive impact on the economy:

  • 'The Commission recommends to State, local and Tribal governments that (when considering the legalization of gambling or the repeal of gambling that is already legal) they should recognize that, especially in economically depressed communities, casino gambling has demonstrated the ability to generate economic development through the creation of quality jobs.' (NGISC Final Report, Recommendation 7.1)
  • 'The Commission recommends to State, local and Tribal governments that (when considering the legalization of gambling) casino development should be targeted for locations where the attendant jobs and economic development will benefit communities with high levels of unemployment and underemployment and a scarcity of jobs for which the residents of such communities are qualified.' (NGISC Final Report, Recommendation 7.3)
  • 'The Commission recommends to State, local and Tribal governments that when planning for gambling-related economic development, communities with legal gambling or that are considering the legalization of gambling should recognize that destination resorts create more and better quality jobs than casinos catering to a local clientele.' (NGISC Final Report, Recommendation 7.5)

Whew! I sure am glad Governor Baldacci saved us from this danger; he fought hard to keep these evils from this great state. I am sure glad he has a better plan although I sure wish he would show us some tax relief plus jobs.

As a retired Slot Machine Technician from a Native American Resort & Casino I can tell you the health benefits and yearly bonuses sure make you smile in an industry that appreciates their employees.


© Copyright 2002-2013 by Magic City Morning Star

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