Ten Reasons to Oppose Expansion of Casino Gambling in Connecticut

  1. Timing. With the Northeast facing a growing casino glut, this is the worst possible time for Connecticut to up its bet on the casino industry. Casino winnings have been flat or shrinking in many states, 5 of New Jersey’s 12 casinos recently closed, and Connecticut’s casino revenue and jobs are down 40% from their peaks. Massachusetts recently opened its first casino, is building mega-casinos in Springfield and Boston, and is waiting on a ruling that could create another mega-casino in Taunton. Rhode Island is expanding its casino offerings, and New York has amended its constitution to allow for additional casinos.
  2. Economic Costs. The Hartford area casino would be targeted almost exclusively at Connecticut residents, while a Bridgeport casino’s potential for drawing New Yorkers has declined greatly with the opening of three casinos in metro New York and the virtual certainty of one or more additional ones being opened there if Bridgeport builds a casino. As a result, the taxes and jobs produced by a Hartford area or Bridgeport casino would be paid for primarily by the gambling losses of Connecticut residents, leaving them with less money to spend on other areas of the state’s economy and, according to economists, merely redistributing existing money within the state without creating economic growth.
  3. Social Costs. Opening a casino in either East Windsor or Bridgeport would dramatically expand casino gambling in Connecticut, leading to an increase in gambling addiction and the problems that accompany it. According to the UConn School of Medicine, the growing gambling epidemic is hitting lower socioeconomic groups the hardest and the resulting societal costs are being borne by employers, law enforcement, social welfare agencies, and the health care system.
  4. Addiction. Casinos spread gambling addiction, which leads to debt, bankruptcies, broken families, related health problems, and crime. The National Council of Problem Gambling estimates that one in five gambling addicts attempts suicide, a rate higher than for any other addiction.
  5. Preying on the Vulnerable. Multiple studies show that 35-50% of casino gambling revenue comes from problem and pathological gamblers. In other words, the casino industry’s business model is dependent upon preying on people with gambling problems and up to half the money government obtains from casinos comes from those individuals and the people around them.
  6. A Regressive Tax. Casino gambling represents a regressive tax that hits low-wage earners, minorities, and the elderly the hardest, thereby contributing to economic and social inequality.
  7. Casinos Damage Local Communities. According to a landmark report from the Institute for American Values, a non-partisan think tank, today’s local and regional casinos drain wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses, hurt property values, and reduce civic participation, family stability, and other forms of social capital.
  8. Further Expansion. Commercial casino gambling has been illegal in Connecticut. As is happening in other states, legalizing it can be expected to open the door to other forms of legalized gambling, including neighborhood slot parlors, sports betting, and internet gambling. In fact, in approving the East Windsor casino, the legislature also approved increasing the number of local off-site betting sites in Connecticut and laid the groundwork for sports betting.
  9. The Bottom Line. Factoring in all the economic and social costs, economist Earl Grinols, the leading independent expert on the subject, has concluded that the net long-term costs of casinos typically outweigh their economic benefits by more than 3-1.
  10. Casinos Not a Solution. New Jersey has had more experience with casinos than any state in the Northeast. In November 2016 its residents voted 4-1 against a proposal to expand casino gambling beyond Atlantic City, reflecting the overwhelming view that casinos have become an economic and social dead end for New Jersey. They have become a dead end for our state as well. Encouraging people to lose their money is a not a solution for the economic challenges Connecticut faces.

Sources include:
Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits, Earl L. Grinols, Cambridge University Press, 2004
High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America’s Gambling Addiction, S. Skolnik, Beacon Press, 2011
Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, Natasha Dow Schull, Princeton University Press, 2012
Why Casinos Matter, Institute for American Values, www.americanvalues.org, 2013
State Revenues from Gambling: Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Disappointment, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, April 12, 2016

Download Ten Reasons here: Ten_Reasons.doc.