New AGA study debunks myths

Mar 23, 2004 5:31 AM

Contrary to popular belief:

”¡ Commercial casinos employ a higher percentage of black executives, white and black female executives, Hispanics and women compared to other businesses.

”¡ The prevalence of pathological gamblers has not increased as commercial gambling has spread across the country.

”¡ The elderly actually show better money management and have fewer problems related to gambling than their younger counterparts.

”¡ Bankruptcy rates are unaffected by the opening of a casino or other source of gaming.

These and other frequent misconceptions about gaming are addressed in the American Gaming Association’s latest publication, Gaming Industry FAQ, which is offered in a question-and-answer format.

Other frequently asked questions that are discussed include:

What are the economic impacts of the casino gaming industry?

Are pathological gamblers the main source of revenue for casinos?

Do other businesses suffer when casinos are introduced into a community?

The last question is a common one, especially as new casinos crop up in locations such as California, Florida and Oklahoma.

To the contrary, the report states, the introduction of a casino actually expands the overall economy of the host community, unless the local economy includes illegal bookmakers or unregistered slot machines!

Restaurants, for instance, which often complain about the threat that casino buffets and dining rooms pose, have been shown to prosper or at worst suffer no ill effects with the advance of commercial casinos.

"Representatives of the food industry on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast indicate that casinos have brought in more business," the AGA report states. "With increased tourism numbers and growth in residents, new franchise restaurants have been opening and local favorites are still busting.

"According to Bob Taylor, president of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, ”˜I think the chain restaurant industry on the Coast is going to continue to expand. Whether we have more casinos or not, we’re going to continue to have growth.’"

The report goes on to ascertain that the "cannibalization of pre-existing local restaurants and entertainment facilities by a mere shift in resident spending is grossly exaggerated."

Other aspects of consumer spending, such as retail sales, have also been impervious to the introduction of commercial gaming.

An analysis of retail sales growth rates in the Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi area revealed an increase of 3 percent per year from 1990-1993, the years when casinos were introduced to the area.

By contrast, between 1993 and 1995, retail sales jumped 13 percent.

The same type of results were recorded in Illinois when riverboat gaming was introduced in 1992, as well as the Shreveport, Louisiana area in 1994, when retail sales increased by 10 percent following the introduction of riverboat gaming.

Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said the Gaming Industry FAQ should help states as they deliberate their gambling policies.

"I think Winston Churchill was on target when he said, ”˜There are two ways of securing cooperation in human action. You get cooperation by controls or you can get it by comprehension.,’" Fahrenkopf said. "The obvious solution here is fostering a greater understanding of our business and how it works.

"If the existing partnership between the states and our industry is to continue to thrive, we need to emphasize the long-term implications of ill-conceived policy decisions," he continued. "Only then will our industry be able to fulfill its economic promise while states continue to fulfill their obligation, commitment and duty to their citizens."