Sunday, April 11, 2021

Gambling Away The Future

Casino gambling was legalized by voter referendum in Ohio in 2009.

When the voters were asked to vote on the referendum the supporters projected that the four casinos that would be authorized (in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo) would bring in $1.9 billion in gross revenues "shortly after they opened" in 2013.

52% of the voters approved of the measure after it had previously been defeated four times in the state.

Over a decade later the casinos have not gotten anywhere close to those revenue numbers proving once again that it is wise to remain skeptical about projections and models that politicians and others use when they want to sell something to the public.

However, last month the Ohio casinos had their biggest revenue month ever---$91 million was wagered. If annualized, that still is just over half the gambling revenue that was projected when the casino issue was sold to voters.

This is the Ohio Casino Control Commission revenue reports for the first three months of 2021.

Ohio Casino Revenues
Jan-Mar, 2021

For comparison, here are the reports for 2020 and 2019. The casinos were forced to close from mid-March thru mid-June in 2020.

Ohio Casino Revenues
Jan-Mar, 2020

Ohio Casino Revenues
Jan-Mar, 2019

When I heard the numbers I could not help but think of how weird that report is.

We are supposedly in the middle of a pandemic and Ohio's casinos have their best revenue month ever? Many churches are closed or have limited services. Many schools are still closed for in-person instruction.

Is it not true that casinos involve large gatherings of people indoors?

It is true that the casinos in Ohio were limited in the hours they could operate until mid-February.

Maryland casinos also set a record for revenues in March with $169 million in revenue.

Perhaps the record revenue is the result of pent-up demand and people just wanting to get out of the house.

Could there be another reason?

Might it not be the result of the federal government sending $1,400 to most every American for Covid relief in March?

We spend $1,400 per person in the middle of a pandemic so that they can go gather with a bunch of other people and gamble the money away?

Even better, our children will have to carry that debt for the rest of their lives.

It sounds like another well reasoned government program.

Every day we seem to gamble away the future some more with what we are doing.

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