Casino Forum in CT: A Report

Casino Forum in CT: A Report

 Grace O'Connor
Intern, CT Conference, UCC

In the first event of its kind, a Forum on the Economic and Social Impact of Expanded Gambling was held at the Connecticut State Capitol. The Forum, co-hosted by Representative Anne Hughes and Representative Jill Barry with the Coalition Against Casino Expansion in Connecticut (CACE) addressed a range of economic and social costs that the state may expect to face if casino gambling, sports betting, and internet wagering are allowed to expand. 

Former Congressman Bob Steele offered an in-depth presentation of the costs of gambling, supported in large part by “Why Casinos Matter”, a report prepared by an independent, non-partisan group of scholars and civil leaders.  He stressed that many other reports on these topics are untrustworthy because they are funded by the gambling industry, and often include biased information.
Congressman Steele addressed these major points in opposition to gambling expansion:
  • Today’s computerized slot machines are designed to be highly addictive and contribute to about 80% of a casino’s gambling revenue.
  • Today’s casinos cater predominantly to low-income workers, retirees, women, and minorities who live nearby. 
  • Despite the common claim from casinos that most customers do not struggle with gambling addiction, over a dozen independent studies have shown that 40-60% of slot machine revenue comes from problem gamblers, which translates into about half of the money the government receives coming from this exploitation. 
  • Problem gamblers hurt their families and communities as well as themselves, frequently resulting in debt, bankruptcy, health problems, broken families, embezzlement, and suicide.
  • There is little evidence that casinos contribute to economic growth, as jobs and tax revenue come from billions of dollars in customer gambling loss that is then no longer available to be spent on other goods and services.  Instead, government-sponsored gambling leads to poverty and economic inequality.
  • Casino revenue will stagnate and then drop over time, as economic dynamics become increasingly negative, especially as the industry becomes oversaturated.
  • Living within ten miles of a casino doubles a person’s chances of becoming a problem gambler.
  • Regional and local casinos drain money and wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses and property values, and reduce the civic participation that is crucial to a strong community.
Congressman Steele further added that casinos have been shown to lead to higher crime rates and hurt the state’s economy, that internet gambling puts youth and young adults at particular risk, and that CT actually has a significantly lower casino tax rate than other states in the Northeast.

Following Steele’s presentation, Adam Osmond, a man who struggled with gambling addiction in the past, shared his story to highlight the social costs of this issue.  Though he lost his two businesses and all his money to gambling, Adam considers himself a survivor, because many problem gamblers end their own lives and are not with us to tell their stories.  He urged that social costs and the impact on families be considered before expanding gambling in the state, as much of the damage of this addiction is so severe that it cannot be undone even with extensive recovery programs.

To become involved or to receive email updates about the Coalition Against Casino Expansion in CT (CACE), which CTUCC is leading for the state, please reach out to CTUCC Legislative Advocate, Michele Mudrick.
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