Gambling addicts are being exploited as a result of state governments’ increased reliance on gambling as a source of revenue. Casinos make a whopping 90% of their profits from “problem gamblers” who account for only 10% of their customers.
In order to ensure their profits, casino managers make specific arrangements—including awards of small cash incentives, limo rides, and casino packages—to ensure that problem gamblers keep returning and losing their money. Slot machines are also constructed to play on human psychology. Gamblers often enter trance-like states, until the spell is broken when they have lost all their money. Furthermore, most casinos are exempt from laws meant to protect the interests of the customer—such as requiring bartenders to stop serving patrons if they have had noticeably too much to drink.
As Alyssa Figueroa reports, “State governments work with casino managers in the name of revenue, which they justify by allotting the money to projects that are meant to enhance communities.” In reality, however, these partnerships not only harm communities, state government agencies also end up paying the price of gambling addiction: Problem gamblers can cost states millions in social services, due to debt and increased crime.
Source: Alyssa Figueroa, “Casinos Are Booming Thanks to State Governments’ Need to Exploit Gambling Addicts for Revenue,” AlterNet, May 3, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/casinos-are-booming-thanks-state-governments-need-exploit-gambling-addicts-revenue.
Student Researcher: Kristin Papile (Sonoma State University)
Community Evaluator: Elizabeth Joniak-Grant (Sonoma State University)