Many states have approved commercial casino games primarily because they see them as a tool for economic growth. The biggest perceived benefits are increased employment, higher tax revenues for state and local governments, and growth in local retail sales. Gambling is no longer an activity routinely condemned by government officials who want to impose ethical standards in their communities. In some parts of the country, gambling has been adopted and promoted as a legitimate economic development strategy.
In theory, lotteries, racetracks, casinos and electronic games can fill government coffers with funds to support worthy government programs. Supporters say gambling can provide jobs with good benefits to people who are unemployed or underemployed. However, to be legitimate, gambling must move from being perceived as a social problem to an ethically neutral form of entertainment or even a positive force for economic development. The government has helped in this transformation by openly promoting various forms of state gambling, such as lotteries and numbers games.
In times of economic success, casinos tend to take labor away from neighboring companies. Since casinos offer higher salaries than normal neighboring businesses, such as restaurants, employees leave the neighboring business and work for the casino. Customers who normally go to neighboring restaurants now go to the casino for food. This demonstrates how not all the growth of a casino can be attributed to economic growth; sometimes casinos simply transfer growth from other businesses to their own.
Supporters also argue that gambling can attract tourism and that restrictions simply divert potential tax revenues to illegal gambling operations or to other regions where the practice is legal. Construction and gambling expenses are often treated as net additions to the community, but this is an overly simplistic approach. In the United Kingdom, Fisher (199) reported that 46 percent of teens surveyed stole from their family, 12 percent stole from others, 31 percent sold their possessions, and 39 percent played with their money for school lunch or travel. The Indiana Gaming Commission used input-output models to compare and evaluate competing applications for riverboat gambling licenses.
Several descriptive studies have published widely varying estimates of the proportion of pathological gamblers who commit crimes and serve prison sentences for crimes such as fraud, theft, embezzlement, forgery, theft and blackmail (Bergh and Kuhlhorn, 1994; Blaszczynsi and McConaghy, 1994a, 1994b; Lesieur and Anderson, 1995; Schwarz and McConaghy, 1994a, 1994b; Lesieur and Anderson, 1995; Schwarz and McConaghy, 1994a Linder, 1992; Thompson et al. Social costs to society are varied and include unemployment benefits, family services and medical treatment for players. Together, the cost per pathological player estimate and the three prevalence estimates allowed analysts to provide a range of costs attributable to pathological players if casinos were approved in Florida. Jacobs and his colleagues (198) compared children who characterized their parents as compulsive gamblers to those who said their parents had no problem with gambling.
Note that the calculations are based on information obtained from the survey of problem players and other external sources. Behavior associated with adolescent problem or pathological gambling includes alcohol and drug use, school absenteeism, low grades, and illegal activities to finance gambling. A relevant question to be asked is whether, in the absence of legalized gambling, a pathological player would have incurred some equally destructive and costly addiction, such as alcoholism. Recently, very few studies have made great strides over the contributions of previous studies, which generally focused only on positive economic benefits or provided descriptions of cost factors associated with pathological and problematic gambling, but did not attempt to estimate the costs of gambling, much less the costs of pathological and problematic gambling.
A slightly more sophisticated form of gross impact analysis involves the use of input-output analysis to capture the direct and indirect effects associated with the game. This average debt is then multiplied by the estimated number of problem gamblers in New Jersey, which, in turn, is based on estimates of the prevalence rate of problem gambling among adults in the state multiplied by an estimate of the number of adults in New Jersey. . .