May 4, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Late last month, an Illinois professor loudly went against the recent trend of expert opinion, where the consensus tends to be that legalized and regulated online gambling would help troubled economies reign in much-needed cash.
John Warren Kindt, a professor of business and public policy at the University of Illinois, has voiced the opinion that a ban on all forms of gambling would actually help cure his state’s 9.1 percent unemployment and $12.4 billion budget deficit.
His logic? "If you're dumping money into these slot machines, you're not spending money on cars, refrigerators, computers, education. In studies, it shows that around these slot machine areas we have people spending even 10 percent less on food," Professor Kindt was quoted in the Daily Herald, a news source serving the suburban Chicago area.
Banning gambling would mean that people would spend more money on consumer goods and services, the professor concludes. And that would lead to greater job creation. In other words, according to this line of thinking, gambling is not just a harmless pastime — it’s sucking much-needed revenue out of the state.
Aside from the obvious objection of the necessity of personal liberties in a free society, and that citizens should not have to curtail their entertainment because of the inability of the state to balance its own budget, Professor Kindt’s opinion is being widely condemned across the Internet for its economic simplicity. In the Daily Herald article alone, comments by readers (presumably laymen) ridiculed the opinion with statements such as “we can spend our money however we choose to spend it” and “why ban a harmless vice”.
An official response by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., President and CEO of the American Gaming Association, was published in the same newspaper shortly after Kindt’s original opinion was printed. “Kindt is a well-known anti-gaming activist,” wrote Fahrenkopf, “and the current economic climate has provided him with yet another opportunity to spread his vitriolic propaganda.”
“Kindt says spending money on gambling is harmful because that money could be spent on consumer goods and services,” continued Fahrenkopf. “I wonder if he would say the same about going to a baseball game; or to the movies.
“People have a right to spend their money however they see fit, and casinos are no different from other businesses that provide exciting entertainment experiences to their patrons. Are we to assume that entertainment spending is bad for the economy? Many economists would strongly disagree with that notion.
“Illinois casinos generated more than $566 million in tax revenue in 2008, which helped improve schools across the state. Additionally, Illinois casinos provide good-paying jobs that wouldn't otherwise exist; they employed 7,700 people who earned $326 million last year. During these difficult times, Illinois can ill-afford to take a single job or contribution for granted.
It’s true that Kindt is a renowned anti-gambling enthusiast, and supporter of the UIGEA. Of the recent news that Barney Frank would soon reintroduce legislation to overturn the UIGEA, Kindt stated, “It's outrageous that he's trying again. This law was the result of ten years of congressional hearings, where expert after expert warned of the dangers of gambling on the Internet”, according to CasinoGamblingWeb.com.
"Online gambling is called the crack cocaine of creating new addicted gamblers," continued Kindt, "It places gambling at every school desk, every work desk, and in every living room. Does Barney Frank really want to entice people to click their mouse and lose their house?"
It’s to be expected that, in a free society, just as there exist crusaders like Barney Frank who work hard to ensure personal liberties are maintained by allowing citizens the freedom to engage in recreational activities like gambling, there will also exist those who crusade against those personal liberties. And Professor Kindt’s remarks should serve as a strong reminder that the type of emotional, factually challenged rhetoric that enabled the UIGEA to pass is still alive and well in the United States.
Click here to read the original article about Kindt’s remarks in the Daily Herald, and click here to read Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.’s response in that same publication. Read the CasinoGamblingWeb.com article here.