Casinos and Cities: Can They Live Together?

An interesting piece by Alan Mallach of Brookings Institution.

He summarises 30 yrs of experience on casinos and cities:

Casinos have an unusual place in the economy. Although widely legal, they are allowed to operate only under stringent regulatory restrictions and usually exist in a quasimonopolistic environment.[3] Their unique status reflects the ambivalence of much of the American public. On the one hand, people see a casino as a powerful fiscal and economic development tool. On the other hand, many feel explicit or covert moral disapproval and fear of casinos’ social and economic implications.

Any economic sector of this size, particularly one usually based in large facilities concentrated in a small number of discrete locations, is bound to have some impact. What the impacts are, however, can be hard to pin down.

Casinos provide fodder for both supporters and opponents. Opponents point to negative social impacts of casinos on people and communities. They mention crime and compulsive gambling. Proponents tout the number of jobs created and the fiscal benefits to state and local governments. Both views are reality based, but a closer look suggests that both proponents and opponents tend to exaggerate the impacts they cite. Crime typically rises in hightourism areas, and there is little evidence to suggest that casinos are much different from other large visitor attractions. Conversely, proponents of casinos rarely acknowledge how much the money that people spend in casinos displaces spending elsewhere in town.

Casinos serve as huge tax bases for govt. so cannot be wished away easily.. What we need is a more integrated approach where casino operators can be pushed into community’s physical and economic fabric..


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