WASHINGTON, D.C. — “The verdict is in, and the accused has been exonerated,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), declared today upon the official release of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s final report.
“As the Commission report says: ‘[I]t is clear the American people want legalized gambling,’” Fahrenkopf said, “and this report, no matter how the critics try to spin it, shows the American people have accepted casino gaming as part of the ‘mainstream culture.’ When this Commission was launched, critics predicted our industry would be found guilty of all types of evils. But their charges have been proven wrong. I hate to say I told you so, but the Commission report is replete with positive references to commercial casino gaming.”
“When you get to the bottom line,” Fahrenkopf said, “the Commission report confirmed that ‘the vast majority of Americans either gamble recreationally and experience no measurable side effects related to their gambling, or they choose not to gamble at all.’
“The Commission puts to rest claims of organized crime involvement, of increased crime related to casinos, of exaggerated numbers of pathological gamblers, of economic benefits being outweighed by absurdly high social costs and a host of other outrageous charges we’ve had to deal with for years.”
In a statement issued immediately following the release of the report, Fahrenkopf used the report’s own words to refute a litany of claims routinely used by gaming foes.
Among the positive references to the commercial casino industry was the recommendation by the Commission that, “… (when considering the legalization of gambling or the repeal of gambling that is already legal) [state, local and tribal governments] should recognize that, especially in economically depressed communities, casino gambling has demonstrated the ability to generate economic development through the creation of quality jobs.”
The Commission also reported that, “[I]t is clear that the American people want legalized gambling, and it has already sunk deep economic and other roots in many communities …[and has]… taken its place in mainstream culture.”
“Of equal importance,” Fahrenkopf added, ” is the Commission’s unanimous affirmation of the 10th Amendment right of the states to regulate gambling.” The Commission found that the states are “best equipped to regulate gambling within their borders,” suggesting the only federal involvement should be with tribal and Internet gambling.
The Commission found that between 0.6 percent and 1.5 percent of the public have, during their lifetime, exhibited symptoms of pathological gambling. Fahrenkopf challenged the foes of gaming to work with the industry to help assist pathological gamblers.
“Those who do not gamble responsibly deserve our attention and help,” Fahrenkopf said. “As the Commission acknowledged in this report, the commercial casino gaming industry has been and is doing more than any other segment of the gaming industry to deal with the serious problem of pathological gambling. We intend to continue our responsible gaming efforts and look forward to working constructively with those who are honestly interested in helping those who cannot gamble responsibly.”
Fahrenkopf stopped short of endorsing the entire report, saying: “We cannot unequivocally endorse the entire report because it includes inflammatory rhetoric, factual errors and several recommendations that do not conform with the evidence presented to the Commission.”
“While this report is not without its faults,” Fahrenkopf said, “it definitely draws a favorable distinction between commercial casinos and other segments of the gaming industry.”
His statement details criticism of recommendations calling for a ban on legal collegiate sports betting and restrictions on political contributions. He also criticized the Commission for allowing the use of a controversial and unscientific “at-risk” category in some discussions of problem gambling.
The AGA represents the commercial casino entertainment industry by addressing regulatory, legislative and educational issues. The association serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops aggressive educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on issues of public concern.