Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Two Creighton University professors have applied simple economics principles to the controversy over whether gambling casinos help or hurt a local economy . . . and the answer has come up snake eyes.

The Omaha-based professors, Edward Morse and Ernie Goss, have found that bankruptcies are twice as numerous in counties with casinos than in counties without them. The statistic holds up in the 31 states that now have casinos.

Gambling creates bankruptcy, and all the ills that come with it, Morse said in a story published Monday by Focus on the Family’s ‘’Family Issues in Policy and Culture.’’ Search ‘’Gambling Tied to Bankruptcy’’ on www.family.org

One of the key dangers: when people go bankrupt, it severely impairs their ability to buy things, own things and pay taxes. Since most taxes go to support public education, it’s obvious that the introduction of casino gambling in Nebraska would pose a huge threat to the stability of the tax base for public education.

Even though that threat is now out in broad daylight, with the certainty that the bankruptcy rate will double wherever casinos come in, people are still for increased gambling in the state.

Maybe they’re still in denial. Morse said, ‘’It seems to me that, anecdotally, there has been long-standing belief that problem gamblers in particular have experienced bankruptcy, or financial meltdown,’’ he said. ‘’What hasn’t been shown as clearly is a statistical increase of this nature.’’

‘’Family Issues’’ also quoted Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, who is battling to keep 12 new casinos out of his state. The findings mean more ammunition for his efforts.

‘’It only stands to reason that you’re going to see bankruptcies increase,’’ Geer said. ‘’There’s really no other place where someone can go on a Friday night and lose their entire paycheck. That happens all the time at casinos.’’

A University of Illinois study suggests gambling costs society two-and-a-half times what it generates in new taxes, but politicians continue to drag their states into the gambling business.

‘’They do benefit analysis, without the cost analysis,’’ Geer said. ‘’And that's a shoddy way to do any analysis at all.’’

To learn more about the down side of gambling, see the book, ‘’House of Cards: Hope for Gamblers and Their Families,’’ by Tom Raabe (Tyndale House, Wheaton, Ill., 2001).

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