QUESTIONS WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES ABOUT GAMBLING

When you go to the polls to make a choice for or against gambling in the next election, you will make a choice that will affect the quality of life of millions of Missourians for years to come. When you vote, you vote for yourself, and no one else. There's nothing noble in voting for something that you don't believe in just so someone else can have the "right" to do It, particularly if it is something that does not contribute to everyone's good. Read the following questions and think about the answers. Be honest with yourself. Sources of information are given.

I. How did the gambling issue come about In Missouri?
"... state and local governments have taken over the gambling rackets, now known as the "gaming industry", . . . the truth is that state and local governments are hooked on the myth that they can gamble their way to prosperity." (Oliver Starr, Chronicles, May 1994). 94 Missouri Representatives and 23 Senators voted for gambling, while 9 in each group voted against gambling (Legislative Record HS HCS SB740).

2. If I don't gamble, I won't be affected by those who do or by the presence of a casino in my area, will I?
You could reasonably expect a change in the quality of life. The questions that follow will address a number of things that will change some aspect of living that you are now accustomed to.

3. What would the presence of a gambling casino mean if it were in my neighborhood?
Increased traffic in neighborhoods would result, particularly in the vicinity of the casino. Casino representatives presenting their plan for a casino in the Kimmswick-Imperial area claimed that casinos would draw 8000 people a day, 24-hours a day, year 'round. (Verbal utterance, Doug Whitehead, Casino Magic, Sep. 93).

4. What are the chances that the presence of casinos in our area will cause a great increase in crime?
Very good. The increase in crime following the opening of a casino in Gulfport, MS in the fall of 1992 looked like this (figures show increase over 1 year):

Jan. 93
Jan. 94
No. of women raped
9
27
People threatened or robbed
22
70
People attacked
462
769
Properties violated
185
379
Larcenies
831
1849
Vehicular accidents
937
1522

In a Colorado town, felonies were up 65%, misdemeanors up 16%, DUI's up 87%, and traffic violations up 70%. (4th Judicial Dist. Atty. John Sutters, Cripple Creek Gold Rush, 8/20/92). Increased crime is a fact of life when gambling casinos move into an area. It will not happen right away, but it will happen.

5. Will casinos offer the kinds of jobs that will allow families and property owners to provide and maintain adequate housing for their families and tenants?
Casinos (in Atlantic City) ... "haven't produced enough in city jobs or taxes to reverse the rot crumbling neighborhoods within an easy stroll of the gaming tables." (USA Today, April 12. 1992). Casinos have been in operation in Atlantic City for about 10 years.

6. Are there any hidden costs to taxpayers arising from the presence of a casino?
YES, DEFINITELY. As a general rule, gambling activities cost the local economy $2.00 for every $1.00 that the gambling industry adds. (Dr. H. Lesieur, Ph.D. Authors: "The Chase: The Compulsive Gamblers, see question 9 about addictive gamblers). Think about the increased expense of hiring extra law enforcement officers to meet rising crime rates (see Question 4 above). Citizens in the City of Alton, IL requested more police protection in the fall of 93 (Post Dispatch article).

7. What effect could the presence of a casino have on local small businesses?
It would depend on the nearness of the casino to the business affected, but according to the Lake City Silver World (Colorado), 9/11/92, "There were 55 gift shops in the Central City area a year ago. But only four remain today." Similar data exists for other towns in Colorado, South Dakota and Ledyard, Connecticut. Money spent on gambling is diverted from other forms of entertainment, retail stores and local bank accounts. "In virtually every case, increased gambling is accompanied by higher welfare costs, much greater costs for treating compulsive gamblers and increased crime." (Oliver Starr, Chronicles, May 1994).

8. How are local employment opportunities affected by casinos coming into an area? "Approximately 2 jobs are lost by preexisting businesses for every job the gambling industry adds." (Dr. H. Lesieur: previously cited). "The day the Alton Belle (Casino) opened in Alton. IL, unemployment was 7.1%. One year later, unemployment was 9.3%." (Tim Landis, Rockford Star Register).

9. What effects could gambling have on people who gamble?
The greatest single ill effect is gambling addiction, a condition in which gamblers simply cannot control their urge to gamble and will beg, borrow and steal money to support their habit. It is this addiction that is the source of a lot of crime associated with gambling. In a way, gambling addiction is much like alcoholism. The afflicted always need rehabilitation. FACT: There are an estimated l0,000,000 compulsive gamblers in the U.S.

10. Will these effects cost Missouri taxpayers?
Absolutely. For the State of Missouri alone, it has been estimated that the cost of treating gambling addiction would cost taxpayers $2 million after only 2 years of full scale gambling. "Pathological gamblers cost Maryland and its citizens about $I.5 billion annually in lost productivity and embezzled, stolen or otherwise abused dollars." (Compulsive Gambling Center, Baltimore, Maryland).

11. What is the difference between gambling and "gaming"?
NONE.

12. Who benefits most from gambling casinos?
Casino owners and investors who, by and large, never gamble themselves. The state and county will get tax revenues but will spend them on the cost of increased law enforcement expense (police, courts, lawyers), treatment of addicted gamblers, increased claims for unemployment benefits, and provision of expanded roads and utilities. Casino profit after taxes and operational expense (and these are substantial) go to local investors and out-of-state owners and investors.

13. Do casinos have ways of skimming money to avoid paying taxes?
Yes, several. These are (I) kickbacks to owners. (2) fictitious operating expenses actually pocketed by managers and owners, (3) fictitious gaming losses similarly misappropriated, (4) fictitious cash advances and (5) manipulations of cash advances. A number of these practices have long been used to skim money in Nevada casinos. ("Don't Bet on It", Tom Watson 1987).

14. Your state and local representatives are responsible for bringing gambling to us, and by so doing, have failed to guard our best interests. If those who represent you in government have done this, do you think you can trust gambling casinos to be "good neighbors"? Answer this question when you vote in November. Remember, all they want is your money.

I5. ASK YOUR OWN QUESTIONS:

  • Ask your state and local representative and State senator if legislation is in place for determining the percentage of gambling revenues that are to be designated for education, road improvements, the treatment of addictive gamblers, and so on.

  • Ask your representatives how they voted on gambling.

  • If the voters turn down games of chance in the next election, ask your representatives how many times we will be required to vote on the gambling issue.

  • Think up some questions of your own. You deserve an answer.