Positive and Negative Effects of Casinos on Communities
Legalized gambling can be beneficial to communities by creating jobs and providing extra income that allows politicians to fund community projects without making cuts elsewhere.
There is some evidence of casino’s increasing crime rates, but when researchers account for other factors the effect quickly vanishes. Furthermore, casinos impose other costs such as higher risk of pathological gambling behaviors and bankruptcy rates.
Casino gambling is an increasingly contentious economic development issue, with both advantages and drawbacks to consider. On one side, casinos may create jobs and generate tax revenue in their host communities, which may in turn fund social good programs like education and senior care services. On the other side, they could potentially reduce crime as their revenue helps support local police departments or other services for which local taxes pay.
Another benefit of casinos is attracting visitors from neighboring counties and driving retail sales and income growth in local economies. Unfortunately, competition from nearby casinos tends to dilute this effect as noted by a study analyzing county-level job growth in regions with multiple casinos.
Pro-casino campaigns often promise increased employment for local populations; however, this may not come to pass, particularly in urban communities with high unemployment rates. Studies are needed to understand the relationship between urban casino proximity and participation (including gambling-related problems) in these areas, and possible exposure and adaptation theories as guides for further investigation; additionally community benefits should be measured against changes in unemployment statewide to avoid creating an inaccurate impression of casino impact.
Due to the recent expansion of urban casinos into major metropolitan areas along the Northeast corridor, new research on their effects is warranted. Although gambling literature demonstrates a link between accessibility, availability and acceptability (AAA) variables and casino gambling participation rates in general; little is known about urban casino AAA variables in relation to local communities they impact.
Casino expansion has long been seen as an answer to rural unemployment issues, yet its economic benefits may not necessarily extend that far. Casino jobs typically create accounting, dealing card and security jobs which don’t need to be filled locally – thus disproving claims that casinos reduce unemployment rates.
Crime rates and casino visitors is another prevalent worry. Studies show that being near a casino increases crime rates; this finding mirrors similar observations made for other tourist spots.
Casino opponents cite proximity to casinos as one of their key arguments against them, noting its possible negative economic effects – such as increased crime, undesirable businesses such as pawnshops or payday loans opening up shop nearby and problem gambling. Although it’s hard to put an exact price tag on these costs, they do exist and cannot be ignored.
Studies show casinos can boost county economic indicators like employment and wages. Furthermore, casino revenue may help local politicians avoid budget cuts or higher taxes elsewhere.
However, some of these benefits may be overstated. For example, an introduction of casinos into a city may cause the unemployment rate to decrease as workers with skills sought by casinos move there, providing a false picture of economic impact from casino. Furthermore, casinos often compete against state-licensed forms of gambling such as lotteries or parimutuel wagering which reduces gambling transactions – and therefore retail sales tax revenues – leading to reduced retail sales tax revenue and further negative impacts from state tax authorities.
Casinos have long been recognized for the positive effect they can have on local tourism industries and economies, providing employment opportunities and increasing average wages in their immediate neighborhoods.
Communities should exercise caution in counting on casinos as an employment boost. When comparing changes in local unemployment before and after opening of casinos, other factors must also be taken into consideration, including population change and state business conditions.
Note that gambling may lead to employment, but can also bring with it various problems such as sleep deprivation, insomnia and circadian rhythm disruptions, depression, aggression and anxiety that may wreak havoc with one’s personal life, family and work performance. Furthermore, gaming addiction may create social isolation as well as loss of self-esteem – it is therefore vital that gamblers seek help when experiencing any form of gaming-related issue.