In a powerful long form article by by John Rosengren covers the impact of gambling addiction and the predatory casino industry. The article, entitled “How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts,” details the ways that electronic gambling machines, like slot machines, along with outrageously predatory tactics used by casinos to bait problem gamblers, combine to destroy the lives of gamblers and their families.
The well-written and deeply researched piece quotes Northeastern University Distinguished Professor of Law and PHAI President, Richard A. Daynard along with PHAI Senior Staff Attorney Lissy Friedman .
Gambling is a public health issue that causes or exacerbates psychiatric disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse. Addicted gamblers are at dramatically increased risk for suicide and may steal to continue gambling. Casinos do not deliver on the economic promises they make and often contribute to economic problems at the community level. PHAI seeks to use legal and policy measures to reduce the public health impact of predatory gambling.
PHAI’s President and University Distinguished Professor of Law at Northeastern University, Richard A. Daynard, has joined more than 30 other scholars from a variety of disciplines around the country who have signed on to a report issued by the non-profit and non-partisan Institute for American Values. The report, “Why Casinos Matter,” provides 31 evidence-based reasons why American casinos need to be understood in terms of how they are significantly affecting our cultural, economic, political, and public health landscape.
The 31 reasons are:
The Rise of the New American Casino
1. Casino gambling has moved from the margins to the mainstream of American life.
2. Today’s regional casinos are different from Vegas-style resort casinos.
The Casino’s Modern Slot Machines
3. The new American casino is primarily a facility filled with modern slot machines.
4. A modern slot machine is a sophisticated computer, engineered to create fast, continuous, and repeat betting.
5. Modern slot machines are carefully designed to ensure that the longer you play, the more you lose.
6. Modern slot machines are highly addictive.
7. Modern slot machines are engineered to make players lose track of time and money.
The Casino’s Health Impact
8. Casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base.
9. Living close to a casino increases the chance of becoming a problem gambler.
10. Problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim.
11. Problem gambling affects families and communities as well as individuals.
12. Young people are viewed as the future of casino gambling.
13. Working in a casino appears to increase workers’ chances of having gambling problems.
14. Working in a casino appears to increase workers’ chances of having health problems.
The Casino’s Economic Impact
15. The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure while many of their costs are longer-term and harder to measure.
16. Casinos extract wealth from communities.
17. Casinos typically weaken nearby businesses.
18. Casinos typically hurt property values in host communities.
The Casino’s Political Impact
19. Casinos are the creation of state government and its public policies.
20. State regulation of casinos creates a conflict of interest, in which the state is charged with protecting the public from the very business practices that generate revenue for the state and which the state is co-sponsoring.
21. States are typically failing to protect their citizens from the harms of state-sponsored casino gambling.
22. States are typically failing to provide adequate help for the treat-ment of problem and compulsive gambling.
23. Some states are propping up failing casinos.
24. Over time, casino expansion within a state and in nearby states can create a downward economic spiral of market saturation, sluggish state revenues, and failing casinos, marked by an ever-growing competition in which each state tries to lure other states’ citizens into its casinos.
25. Regional casinos are a regressive source of revenue for the states.
The Casino’s Intellectual Impact
26. Research on gambling in America is largely funded by the gambling industry.
27. Research on gambling funded by the gambling industry focus¬es overwhelmingly on the individual pathology and pharmacology of gambling addiction while avoiding research into machine design, player profiling, and other industry practices and technological innovations that foster gambling addiction.
The Casino’s Social Meaning
28. State sponsorship of casinos is a policy contributing to patterns of inequality in America.
29. State sponsorship of casinos raises troubling ethical questions about fairness and equal treatment of citizens.
The Casino’s Historical Meaning
30. Encouraging people to put their money into slot machines has historically been viewed as unethical.
31. Encouraging legal gambling as “fun” entertainment and an all-American pastime is a historically new development.
As predatory casino gambling continues to permeate the nation, there is an urgent need to understand the impact it is having.