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Ban on betting would boost ailing economy, gambling critic says
Date:9/23/2008

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Congress should resurrect the nationwide gambling ban that existed through most of the 20th century to help soothe a fragile U.S. economy shaken by the worst credit and financial crisis in decades, a University of Illinois professor and national gambling critic says.

John W. Kindt argues that gambling is a multi-billion dollar drag on the economy, not the moneymaking boost touted by supporters. Cash merely changes hands from bettors to casino owners, he says, creating no products or anything else of value.

If the estimated $100 billion now spent annually on gambling mostly slot machines went into consumer spending instead, economic models show it would generate more than $300 billion for the nation's slumping economy and create jobs and services, said Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy. He says Congress should also repeal more than $40 billion in tax write-offs for slot machine owners.

A ban also would save hundreds of billions in costs to society stemming from gambling addictions, bankruptcies and crime that studies show increases when casinos open, he said.

"No. 1, a ban would pump prime the economy," Kindt said. "No. 2, it would lower pressure on taxes because you wouldn't have as many new addicted gamblers, bankruptcies and crime. So you're eliminating substantial social costs, you're improving quality of life overall and as John F. Kennedy said, 'a rising tide lifts all boats.' "

A ban would not solve the lingering economic turmoil that has left the nation teetering on the brink of recession, said Kindt, who has studied gambling since Illinois first allowed riverboat casinos nearly two decades ago.

"But it's a step in the right direction and would halt the spread of gambling that is destabilizing world economies and financial markets," he said.

"It also would send good economic signals to less stable countries that they can't gamble their way to prosperity."


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Contact: Jan Dennis
jdennis@illinois.edu
217-333-0568
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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