There’s nothing morally wrong with gambling and casinos. I am headed to Las Vegas in a few weeks. I don’t gamble though because I work too hard to make my money, I don’t want to lose it that easy. But I don’t have a problem with people who do. But Las Vegas is the exception. Elsewhere, communities put in casinos when they’ve given up on every other option.
Georgia’s Republican Party wants to put casinos in Georgia now to help pay for education costs. They continue to have hearings on the issue and keep stacking the deck against opposition. In fact, the first time they had hearings they excluded any and all opposition. The second time, they limited the opposition’s time to speak.
Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed has noted that Las Vegas is in the desert for a reason. He is not sold on the idea of a casino in downtown Atlanta. The backers of the casino want to put it in an area that borders poor, black neighborhoods. In fact, the proposal before the state legislature would open the state to several casinos, all of which would wind up affecting black neighborhoods more than rich white neighborhoods if the backers are to believed in their suggested locations.
Cities put in casinos when they’ve given up on everything else. Baltimore wanted to revitalize its water front. It hasn’t. Detroit wanted to do something. It is still a third world craphole. New Orleans is the same. Illinois still has its financial struggles. In fact, the St. Louis Federal Reserve notes “[C]ontrary to the claim made by lottery officials, state lotteries do not appear to help public education. There is no reason to doubt the same result could occur with casino revenue.”
Not only that, the Federal Reserve notes that “if the bulk of a casino’s clientele is local, then one would expect retail sales (and thus retail sales tax revenue) in the local area to be negatively impacted.” Likewise, the area the Atlanta casino would supposedly be built would be designed to keep tourists in house so they do not branch out to other local attractions. In fact, later studies from this 2002 Federal Reserve report have confirmed that local businesses tend to be harder hit by casinos than by Walmarts opening. Local businesses suffer “cannibalization” from the casinos.
Senior citizens and the poor are the most likely people to take regular advantage of casinos and consequently tend to be hardest hit. In fact, casinos tend to serve as regressive taxation vehicles where the poor spend their money more.
The impact of casinos on neighboring property values is “unambiguously negative,” according to the economists at the National Association of Realtors. Casinos don’t encourage non-gaming businesses to open nearby, because the people who most often visit casinos do not wander out to visit other shops and businesses. A casino is not like a movie theater or a sports stadium, offering a time-limited amusement. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release its customers until they have exhausted their money. . . .
People who live close to a casino are twice as likely to become problem gamblers as people who live more than 10 miles away. As casinos have become more prevalent, so has problem gambling: in some states, the evidence suggests a tripling or even quadrupling of the number of problem gamblers.
While the gaming industry argues that the total number of problem gamblers remains small, that small minority is crucial to the industry’s profits: One Canadian study found that the 75 percent of casino customers who gamble most casually provide only 4 percent of casino revenues.
Georgia’s white Republicans are actively considering bringing a casino to downtown Atlanta and throughout the state in order to save the HOPE scholarship. Every other state that has done the same has failed. They are going to locate the casino in Atlanta, and the others, in areas closer to poor black neighborhoods rather than rich white neighborhoods. The economic impact on residents, the crime projects, the deterioration of local businesses, etc. is going to dramatically impact black residents more than white residents.
But Georgia’s Republicans don’t care. They’re out of ideas. They’ve given up. This is, after all, the same party that due to campaign contributions has crippled Georgia’s burgeoning craft beer brewery industry. The alcohol wholesale industry check writers to the GOP decided it far better to shut down craft beer breweries than have them sell their product directly to brewery customers.