Gambling on Guam Essay

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The prospect of the legalization of gambling on Guam has sparked many spirited debates from both opponents of gambling and proponents. The opponents of legalization cite the negative impacts that gambling has on communities. Increases in crime, suicides, divorces, gambling addiction, and corruption of politics are some of the main arguments on why the legalization of gambling is a bad choice. Supporters of the legalization of gambling counter these allegations with claims of improved economic climates that would yield revenue for communities to use on important government services like education, health care, and public safety.

Though the promise of a boosted economy sounds enticing, history has shown that gambling will create more problems than it would fix. The creation of jobs by gambling establishments is probably the most alluring promise made by supporters of gambling. The claim that thousands of jobs would be instantly available for the construction of gaming establishments, staffing of the establishments, and increase of jobs indirectly by support services is false.

Seasoned economist William Thompson points out that lucrative construction projects could be awarded to outside firms, and at that construction materials are not always acquired locally, but are sometimes imported ( 56). Thompson also warns that though gambling establishments would certainly have job openings available, many times employees are hired from outside the local community; as in the case of his study of Atlantic City (58). Jobs are also cannibalized from other employers within the area; when this happens the job market is not expanded, just adjusted (Felsenstein, 409).

Then there are the findings of the NGISC (National Gambling Impact Study Commission. ) The commission found that many of the jobs being offered by casinos are unstable, and have little to no benefits (National Gambling Impact Study Report, 7-5) Another proposed benefit would be additional funds for the government that would be generated by gambling revenues. These revenues are generally collected from taxes imposed on casinos, and profits from government sponsored lotteries. Theoretically the additional revenue collected by the government would be substantial, and is a wonderful way to add to government funds.

But profits attained this way are often offset by other factors. One of the more prevalent issues is help programs for problem gamblers. These programs take funds that could have been used on more important government needs such as education and public safety (Thompson, 76). Furthermore Thompson suggests that additional government spending is used when the need for more law enforcement and public safety officers is increased in areas near casinos (160). Plus there are the costs that governments have to expend for the regulation of gambling and collection of revenues.

These costs vary from place to place, and are more often than not costly ventures. For example in 1995 New Jersey spent upwards of $80 million for casino regulation costs to administer $296 million in casino revenues. That is almost thirty percent of the total revenues collected that year. (Thompson, 52). These administration costs are almost never brought to the attention of would be gambling communities, but should be brought up because people need to see the whole picture. Gambling activists also tout that the surrounding areas of gambling establishments would flourish with the influx of consumers in the area.

The idea is that as more visitors swell the area, some of the gamblers money would spill over into the businesses in the area. Michael Thomas of the American Planning Association contends that visitors to gambling destinations more often than not spend their entertainment dollars on at the gaming establishment, instead of other destinations like museums, restaurants, and retail stores (33). This conclusion should be obvious as most gambling destinations are more than just casinos, but rather resorts that offer a complete experience with gaming, dining and shopping.

Atlantic City is an outstanding example of this happening. The citys hopes of improved business since gambling has been legalized are far from coming to fruit (Thomas, 33). In fact the National Gambling Impact Study Commission report found that money spent at casinos in Atlantic City was money diverted from other local businesses (National Gambling Impact Study Report, 7-5). Though not entirely limited legalization of gambling, the increase of crime is apparent wherever there is gambling.

Abundance of instances of street crimes like robbery, auto theft, prostitution are almost always staples of gambling hubs (Thompson, 62). There are also numerous incidents of white collar crimes like embezzlements, forgery, and various forms of larceny (Thompson, 62). The National Gambling Impact Study found that these crimes are motivated by problem gamblers, their insatiable need to gamble fuels their crimes to attain more betting money (National Gambling Impact Study, 7-20). This is shown in the fact that three years after the introduction of casinos in Atlantic City, the crime rate tripled.

The gambling mecca of Nevada is the most dangerous place to live in the United States, based on the crime rates of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft (National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, 1) Still another argument that is meant to persuade is the idea that with the legalization of gambling, illegal gambling will decrease. But that statement is just not true. In fact legalized gambling has been shown to increase not decrease illegal gambling; this is due to the fact that illegal operations are untaxed and may offer better odds and pay offs ( National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, 2).

The non taxing of potential winnings is an alluring aspect of illegal gamblers. They could theoretically become rich and not have to declare a cent to the government. Gamblers in places where it is legalized also have a tendency to believe that since gambling is legal, then every gaming establishment is legitimate; even non licensed establishments (Thompson, 53). The NCALG also points out that law enforcement officials in places where gambling is legalized view illegal gambling as a state revenue issue, rather than criminal activity.

This perception hampers the law enforcement officials motivation to investigate, since they dont see it as their realm of responsibility (National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, 2). The fact that the rate of illegal gambling in states where gambling was sanctioned more than doubled after the legalization of gambling forced the National Gambling Impact Study Commission to conclude that legal gambling was not a competitor of illegal gambling, but a stimulator (National Gambling Impact Study Report, 7-6).

All these facts are just the economic aspects of the legalization of gambling, but it is more than enough to substantiate the views of opponents of gambling. The supporters of legalization of gambling paint a pretty picture in their view of how things would be. But it is a flawed view, perpetuated by a select few who wish to capitalize on siphoning money from the poor to the rich. Communities will suffer slowly from the effects to gambling, and in the end there are no winners. Works Cited Felsenstein, Daniel.

Casino Gambling as Local Growth Generation: Playing the Economic Game in Reverse. Journal of Urban Affairs. 21-4 (1999): 409-421. NCAG. National Coalition Against Gambling. 20, Aug. 2004 < http://www. ncalg. org>. National Gambling Impact Study Commission. National Gambling Impact Study Report. Washington. 1999: 7-1+. Thomas, Daniel. Get Rich Quick. American Planning Association. Jun. 2005: 33-36. Thompson, William Norman. Legalized Gambling: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: California, 1997.

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