I'm excited to share with you the press release below regarding the Institute's new anti-gambling initiative in New York. You can also read my opinion piece, "More Casinos? Think Again" in today's Albany Times Union.
New York Economists agree:
Casinos are a bad bet for the Empire State
Casino promoters challenged to "produce the evidence"
before any action is taken to amend the State's Constitution
New York, NY--January 3, 2012--Many of New York's economists from the state's leading colleges and universities agree that casino gambling is a bad bet for the Empire State, according to the results of an opinion survey released Tuesday. In fact, a majority of the economists who answered the survey view casinos as regressive.
The findings, released by the Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values, a New York City think tank with a focus on addressing America's personal debt crisis, directly contradict Governor Andrew Cuomo and other state officials who have claimed casino gambling will benefit New York.
"Legalized casino gambling encourages people to pin their hopes on games of chance that are stacked against them," said Cornell University economist Prof. Robert Frank, one of the respondents to the survey. "Those who are determined to gamble will find some way to do so, but why lend government's imprimatur to predators' efforts to exploit people who can least afford to bear the inevitable losses?"
In a New York Daily News story from December 26th, Governor Cuomo "argued that the economic boost from casino gambling far outweighs the increase in crime and compulsive gambling and other social ills that critics say the industry fosters."
Current research suggests the exact opposite. Research increasingly shows that the costs of casino gambling far outweigh any economic benefits derived from its legalization. According to the New York economists surveyed:
- A majority (59%) of those responding agreed with the statement that "a respectable body of economic thought holds that casinos are economically regressive." Only 19% disagreed with the statement, while another 22% said they were unsure.
- An even higher percentage (68%) of economists who responded said that they themselves believe that casinos are economically regressive.
"Casino gambling is not just economically regressive, it is sociologically destructive to the community," stated another survey respondent, Union College economist Prof. Mary O'Keefe.
Ample evidence shows that casino gambling is a failed economic policy. Scholarship suggests that casinos:
- have no long-term positive impact on statewide economic growth
- depend disproportionately on lower-income people for their profits and thus impose on behalf of government a highly regressive and unfair tax;
- have employees, but the majority of jobs in casinos are low-wage and low-skill positions;
- located within a short driving distance of residents' household lead to higher incidences of problem and pathological gambling in nearby communities;
- cause a "leakage" of dollars from other taxable sectors, such as restaurants, bars, and hospitality venues, and thus may reduce revenues from sales and excise taxes;
- are unstable sources of revenue because they are highly sensitive to business cycles; and
- casino revenues are more expensive to administer than other kinds of taxes, in part due to high fixed costs, regulatory requirements and infrastructure maintenance.
"This strong consensus among many of the state's economists highlights the need for the Governor and others to produce the evidence that casino gambling is not a failed economic policy before any action is taken to amend the State's Constitution," said David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values.
THE OPINION SURVEY was conducted via mail, email, and telephone by the Institute for American Values during the period of December 5-20, 2011. The universe of economists for the survey constituted those economists currently working at public and private New York State colleges and universities in at least one of the following fields: Behavioral Economics; Economic Public Policy; Public Economics; Healthcare Economics; Consumer Economics; Economics of Poverty, Family, Inequality, Class, Gender, Minorities, and Crime; Economic Development/Growth; Regional Economics; Urban Economics; Economics of Demography; Tourism, Hospitality, and Leisure Economics; Economic Ethics; Politics, Philosophy, and Economics/Political Economy; Public Finance; and State Finance. Names, areas of study, and contact information were obtained from college and university websites. A total of 126 New York State economists from these fields were identified and contacted, first through mail and email, and then (for those not yet responding) by phone calls. A total of 64 responded to the survey, for a response rate of about 50 percent.
THE CENTER FOR THRIFT AND GENEROSITY is headquartered in New York City at the Institute for American Values. Through research, public education, civic action and policy reforms, its aim is to promote savings opportunities and incentives for Americans of modest means and to establish thrift as a broadly achievable, financially rewarding and culturally favored way of life.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with David Blankenhorn, please contact Matthew Kaal at 212-246-3942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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