While the American Gaming Association does not take a formal position on gaming expansion, we would like to set the record straight about the false allegations made in your recent editorial (Re: “Stressed lawmakers must resist gambling,” Jan. 7).
Reporting misstatements, even when attributed to a national news source such as the New York Times, is a lesson in “Rumormongering 101.” Fortunately, many independent studies have been conducted that refute those erroneous assertions on the social effect of gaming. Research conducted for the NGISC found that ” … the casino effect is not statistically significant for any of the … crime outcome measures …”; the General Accounting Office (GAO) corroborated the commission report, stating “[C]rime cannot be linked to gambling.” Further study for the NGISC reports claims of cannibalization to be “grossly exaggerated.” Additionally, commission research estimated that the pathological gambling prevalence rate was 0.6 percent in 1999, whereas in 1976 it was 0.77 percent. Despite a significant increase in gambling opportunities, the rate has remained relatively unchanged.
The “standard” for American gaming can be found nationwide - riverboats along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, land-based casinos in Atlantic City, N.J.; Detroit; and New Orleans as well as resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. These and other U.S. casino jurisdictions have experienced an economic boon since the introduction of gaming in the form of tax revenue, jobs and increased tourism, which bolster neighboring businesses. Casino taxes help make improvements to infrastructure and fund police and fire departments as well as local charitable causes. In fact, according to research conducted for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, “[G]ambling appears to have net economic benefits for economically depressed communities.”
Local officials from communities where casinos are located echoed this sentiment in testimony to the NGISC. In its 1999 final report, the commission stated: “Without exception, these elected officials expressed support for gambling and recited increased revenues for their cities. They also discussed community improvements made possible since the advent of gambling in their communities and reviewed the general betterment of life for the citizenry in their cities.”
While we respect the right of your newspaper to express its views, perhaps former U.S. Sen. Daniel “Pat” Moynihan of New York said it best: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own set of facts.”
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO