The nice thing about gambling is that it makes a community a ton of money with no downside. Right? Well, not exactly, as a quick search on Google News for “Embezzlement and Gambling” over just the past month reveals:
– Oct 27, 2011: A Northern California woman has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for tax evasion on millions of dollars she embezzled from her employers. She spent the money on gambling and expensive vacations.
– Oct 26, 2011: A Euguene, OR woman faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1 million fine for embezzling $146,000 from two credit unions. She used the money to support her gambling habit.
– Oct 24, 2011: A Carson City, NV woman has been arrested for felony embezzlement after stealing $1,120 from the fast food restaurant she worked at. She lost the money gambling.
– Oct 12, 2011: Brentwood, MO’s city administrator pled guilty to embezzling $30,000 from the city. He spent the money on gambling.
– Oct 7, 2011: A woman in Muskegon, MI has admitted to embezzling at least $10,000 from Muskegon’s Polish Union She attributed her embezzlement to a gambling addiction.
– Oct 6, 2011: A man is on trial in Milwaukee, WI for embezzling at least $35,000 from Oak Creek Youth Football. He used the money for gambling, vacations, car payments and personal expenses.
If we open a casino so we can subsidize the NFL, perhaps we too can see our local businesses, credit unions, affinity groups, and youth organizations pillaged to the Vikings’ benefit?
Another example of the “benefits” of casinos can be found in Maine, where they are currently debating expanding casinos in their state from 2 to 5. The head of CasinoNo! has an editorial in the Sun Journal reflecting on the lack of economic impact gambling has had in Bangor, ME:
In other words, that money was already in Maine’s economy, nothing was added. Instead of spending it downtown at retail shops, restaurants, car dealers and other businesses, people just ended up losing it in the slot machines.
That’s not economic development; that’s just a shell game. Economic cannibalism.
Yes, they have embezzlement problems as well:
As for the increase in crime, the story mentions a single case of embezzlement — a woman who stole $40,000 from her employer and lost it all playing the slots. But it fails to mention an even bigger case just a few weeks ago — a Holden woman who was convicted of stealing $400,000 and losing it all at Hollywood Slots. Or the apartment manager in Portland who stole more than $200,000 in rent collections and gambled it away at the Bangor casino.
There are other cases too, and probably many others that we don’t know about. Do the public officials who gloat about all the revenue the city collects from the casino feel good about the fact that a sizable portion of it comes from stolen money?
The nice thing for the Vikings is that their stadium would be paid for with casino earnings driven Wilfare whether the money is stolen or not. That’s not their problem. It’s ours.
The CasinoNo! article wraps up with a high level look at what the casino in Bangor has done for the community:
They promised jobs, but more people are unemployed today in Bangor than before the casino. They said crime wouldn’t increase — but it has, a lot. They said the casino would attract tourists, but it is mostly the locals who play. They said the casino would be an “economic engine” that would benefit every other Bangor business. But that’s not what the data says.
In my opinion, building a casino to increase public revenues would be a bad idea if the money went toward actual public needs. It’s an even worse idea if it’s done to provide subsidies to the National Football League. We’re better than that.