Opinion: More tribal casinos aren't right answer for Connecticut

Magician and illusionist Criss Angel performed a stunt at the Foxwoods Resort Casino last November. Photo from Facebook

Robert Steele, a former U.S. Congressman who authored The Curse: Big-Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town, opposes plans to authorize new casinos for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe:
Connecticut’s response to its declining casino revenue has been to try to replace it with more gambling. The state began by increasing the casinos’ free play allowance so they could beef up promotions, and it tried to put keno in restaurants, bars and convenience stores until public opposition killed the effort. Now a group of top legislative leaders have introduced a bill to allow the two Indian casinos to jointly build three commercial “convenience” casinos across the state.

The story is similar in an increasing number of maturing casino states: the casinos start strong, the revenue begins to decline as competition mounts, and the states rush to prop up the casinos and/or add other forms of gambling in order to keep the easy money flowing. And in the process, the casinos leave a host of problems in their wake.

According to a recent landmark report from the non-partisan Institute for American Values in New York, they drain wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses, hurt property values, and reduce civic participation, family stability, and other forms of social capital that are at the heart of a successful society.

Despite the lessons from Connecticut and elsewhere, those seeking to bring casinos to New Hampshire continue to argue that their benefits would outweigh their costs. But would they? With the social costs of casinos becoming clearer and the economic arguments that have been used to justify those costs unraveling, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult argument to make.

Get the Story:
Robert H. Steele: Connecticut’s casinos serve as cautionary tale (The Concord Monitor 4/13)

Other Opinions:
Editorial: Towns recognize that casinos aren’t a good bet (The Manchester Journal Inquirer 4/13)
John Kostrzewa: Among casinos, nasty becoming the norm (The Providence Journal 4/13)
Editorial: Keno still a bad bet (The New London Day 4/11)

Also Today:
The Real Story – New casinos in Connecticut (Fox CT 4/12)
Public hearing planned on allowing keno in Connecticut (AP 4/12)
Connecticut's 2 tribal casinos face financial questions as they draft joint development plan (AP 4/11)

Related Stories
Opinion: Connecticut tribes scramble to protect casino empire (4/10)
Tribes warn of job and revenue losses at casinos in Connecticut (4/7)
Connecticut tribes defend gaming after swipe by non-Indian rival (4/2)
Opinion: Connecticut tribes face challenges to gaming empire (3/31)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Connecticut lawmakers move fast on bill for new tribal casinos (3/20)

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