U.S. States Desperate for Funding Consider Gambling Expansion
March 4, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The Wall Street Journal examines the drive to expand [land] gambling in a number of U.S. states desperate for new sources of revenue in the tough economic times in the United States. In the article, the WSJ reports that at least a half-dozen states are weighing whether to expand gambling opportunities, as longtime proponents of slot machines, video poker and casinos seize upon the recession to promote gambling receipts as a quick-and-easy solution to budget woes.
"The proposals, most still in the early stages, include a Maryland bill that would put 3,000 slot machines in airport terminals, efforts in Kentucky and Nebraska to allow slot machines at racetracks and a proposal in Illinois to allow lottery tickets to be sold online," the article informs.
"Perhaps the most far-reaching campaign is in Texas, where pro-gambling lawmakers are pushing for 12 new Las Vegas-style casinos, one in every major city across the state. Other bills circulating in Austin would allow casino gambling on tribal lands and slot machines at horse and greyhound race tracks," it continues.
The well-researched article goes on to examine the funding implications, especially in a recession where even major land gambling companies have been shown not to be recession-proof. It also examines the inflated revenue projections presented by some politicians trying to get approval for land gambling expansion.
Suzii Paynter, who directs the public-policy arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, dismissed over-optimistic projections of gambling revenue as "billionitis." She recently emphasized that the state of Texas had been built on tourism, and that new land casino ventures — assuming the money could even be found to fund these — could cannibalize tourism revenues from more wholesome and natural attractions in the Lone Star state.
"We built our state on family-friendly tourism," Ms. Paynter said. "And we have a saying in Texas: "Dance with who brung ya."
Intriguingly, the article does not include the highly professional estimates recently released by the internationally respected accounting group PricewaterhouseCoopers, projecting up to $52 billion tax potential over the next few years if Internet gambling were to be licensed, regulated and taxed in the United States.