In his August 17 article, Daniel Chang did an admirable job weighing the potential consequences of expanded gambling in Florida. Unfortunately, however, the article perpetuates several common misperceptions.
A number of comprehensive studies conducted by well-respected law enforcement and public service organizations, including the National Institute of Justice, have found no positive correlation between crime and gambling. In fact, data shows that casinos’ robust security programs may even discourage neighborhood crime.
In addition, many peer-reviewed research studies conducted by reputable experts corroborate Dr. Howard Shaffer’s finding that fewer than 2 percent of Americans are pathological gamblers. More recent studies have shown the prevalence rate to be even lower. The fact is, despite the tremendous growth of gaming over the past 30 years, the prevalence rate of disordered gambling remains virtually unchanged.
Without a doubt, there is a small percentage of the population who experience problems with gambling, an issue the commercial casino industry takes very seriously. That is why we provide a significant amount of funding each year for independent, peer-reviewed research into the disorder and public awareness programs.
While Chang does highlight tax revenue as a potential benefit of expanded gaming, he fails to mention the many other advantages commercial casinos bring to their surrounding communities: creating jobs, attracting visitors and helping neighboring businesses generate revenue.
As the public discourse about Florida’s growing gaming industry continues, we believe your readers deserve a fair, thorough presentation of the facts.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association