Tuesday October 15,2013 : ACADEMIC STUDY CALLS FOR LIMITS TO CONNECTICUT GAMBLING
Findings give ammunition to anti-online gambling lobby
Any legalization of online gambling in the US state of Connecticut could be influenced by reaction to a recent study of land casino saturation in the state carried out by The Council on Casinos, an independent, nonpartisan group of scholars assembled by the Institute for American Values, a New York based non-profit whose mission is to study and strengthen civil society.
In reporting on the study, the local Hartford Courant newspaper noted that land casinos continue to proliferate in the United States with almost a thousand gambling venues across America.
In its preamble to the study, The Council on Casinos notes that:
"From time to time, a new institution takes root across the country, and in doing so changes the nation – changes the physical landscape of communities, impacts the patterns and habits of daily life, affects citizens' and communities' economic outcomes, and even alters relationships" among its citizens."
Gambling is just such an institution, the Council concludes, listing the following key findings:
- Once a largely upper-class activity, casino gambling has moved to the mainstream of American life.
- The American casino is primarily filled with highly addictive slot machines. It caters overwhelmingly to middle and low rollers who live within an hour's drive away, return frequently and play the slots.
- Modern slot machines transformed American gambling. They are sophisticated computers, engineered to create fast, continuous betting designed to get players to gamble longer and lose more.
- Problem gamblers (those with moderate to severe gambling addiction) account for 40 percent to 60 percent of slot machine revenue.
- Problem gambling has serious family and societal consequences.
- Casinos extract wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses and reduce voluntarism, civic participation, family stability and other forms of social capital.
The Courant notes that slot revenue at Connecticut's two casinos is down more than 30 percent from its peak, with the state's share dropping from $430 million annually to under $300 million, and that state government needs to reduce dependency on this source of tax revenues.
"Instead, our government appears determined to double down and promote more gambling," the newspaper observes, pointing to recent land gambling expansion moves and state governor Dannel P. Malloy's support for initiatives seeking to allow the state's land casinos to enter the online gambling sector.
"The casinos want it to attract a broader and younger audience, and experts view it as particularly addictive because of the fast pace, 24-hour availability and the instant gratification," the newspaper warns.
The Courant is worried that internet gambling regulation may be introduced stealthily, and gives as an example the recent approval of keno by the legislature in the wee morning hours without notice or hearings and after apparently making a secret deal to share the profits with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
"Given the administration's proclivity for backroom deals, the danger is that Connecticut residents will wake up one morning with video slot parlours and Internet gambling without ever having a chance to voice their opposition," the newspaper cautions.