Gambling: Pro/Con

Legalized gambling has exploded into a national force. Revenues doubled the past five years ('91-'96). In 1996 gambling waging totaled over $500 billion. In 1997, 38 states including the District of Columbia have lotteries; 23 states have casinos. Two decades ago, two states had legal gambling; today 48 states have sanctioned it.

But gambling remains a complex issue that is only beginning to be explored. Here are some thought-provoking analyses from experts and groups on both sides.

pro

"The Virtues of Gambling" by Felicia F. Campbell, Business and Society Review Here's an interesting article which explores gambling's ubiquity in human history and its deep attraction for humans. People gamble, says Campbell, because "it helps them face the world more successfully than they could without the spark which gambling gives."

"More Good News in the Gaming Industry...." by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. President of the American Gaming Association. This is an overview of facts and statistics showing how casinos have benefited three specific communities where they have been operating since 1992 - from the 1996 Arthur Andersen study.

"The Future of Gambling" by Felicia F. Campbell, The Futurist, April 1976
This social scientist finds that gambling offers valuable psychological benefits. In particular, it can hold constructive psychological purposes for the elderly, the worker and the executive. Furthermore, says Campbell, gambling offers a sense of total involvement in life as well as a release from daily tension.

Anthony Pico, Chairman of the Viejas Indians sums up here the extraordinary benefits for his people which have come from legalized gambling on their reservation (excerpted from FRONTLINE's interview with Pico).

J. Terrence Lanni, Chairman of MGM Grand, Inc. explains why gambling will no longer be an 'issue' in a few years (this is excerpted from FRONTLINE's interview with Lanni). Lanni is a member of the Federal Gambling Commission recently created by Congress to study legalized gambling's social and economic impact.

Frank Fahrenkopf, President of the American Gaming Association analyzes the positive forces behind the movement toward greater legalization of gambling nationwide (excerpted from FRONTLINE's interview).

American Gaming Association
The AGA's site contains a range of material supporting the gaming industry. In the section "For the Media" you'll find the executive summary of the 1996 Arthur Andersen casino gambling report which concluded the casinos are a strong provider of jobs, tax revenues and offer wages which match or surpass the national average. This site also contains links to the major hotel/casino corporations who are members of AGA (with information/photos on where their resorts are and what you can do there in addition to gambling). "Did You Know" and "Myths and Facts" offer facts about gambling's history in the U.S.

American Indian Gambling and Casino Information Center
This web site offersg information on many aspects of tribal gaming and how gambling is "helping Indian nations to recover from centuries of economic and social neglect."

con

"Gambling: A Controlled Substance" by William N. Thompson, August 1994 Thompson warns communities who are seeking economic benefits from legalized gambling that there are social costs involved in making the powerful 'narcotic' of gambling more available. Thompson specializes in the study of gambling and public policy.

"Is There a Cure for America's Gambling Addiction?" by Bernard P. Horn, political director, National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. The author outlines how gambling addiction has become a public health crisis which the country is ignoring.

"The Business-Economic Impacts of Licensed Casino Gambling: Short-Term Gain but Long-Term Pain" by John Warren Kindt. This is a detailed examination of why legalized gambling is not a valid strategy for economic development for communities or states.

"The Government as Predator - A Troubling New Role in Troubled Economies" by Robert Goodman (excerpted from his book The Luck Business) A look at the marketing tactics of states to increase their lottery ticket sales and sucker the public into playing games which offer an almost infinitesimal chance of hitting the jackpot.

Reverend Thomas Grey, head of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, argues gambling is a symbol of the 'give up' by business and government to pay their fair share of taxes. Grey also says gambling is a 'give-up' by people who gamble - because they're willing to be made losers and, no longer believe in their future (excerpted from the FRONTLINE interview).

Bill Thompson, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas gives his analysis about why the economic arguments which favor gambling are weak and misguided (excerpted from FRONTLINE's interview with Thompson).

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