The spread of casino gambling, embraced by politicians as a surefire way to boost tax revenues, is contributing to poorly understood changes in health, economic, politics in the United States, according to a report released Monday by the Institute for American Values.
The 55-page report, “Why Casinos Matter: Thirty-one Evidence-based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences,” relies heavily on research from Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, where governments have commissioned rigorous research on the impacts of gambling on society.
But in the United States, the biggest source of money for gambling research is the gambling industry itself, the report said.
That industry-sponsored research has focused primarily on gambling addiction as a mental illness that afflicts a limited number of people, with relatively little attention to industry practices that foster addiction, the study said.
The Institute for American Values is a New York nonprofit devoted to researching and educating the public about family well-being and civil society.
This week’s report, endorsed by 33 scholars and others with an interest in casinos’ socio-economic impact, also describes the evolution of the casino industry since the early 1990s, when it was still concentrated in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
“Casino gambling as a once or twice year vacation has given away to casino gambling as a once or twice a month or twice a week more a week pattern of life,” the report said.
Mark Boyd, president and chief executive of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, is in the group that signed on to the study. He said government’s deep involvement in casino gambling made his skin crawl.
“There’s something wrong with our society if we have to depend on gambling to keep the revenue coming,” Boyd said.