The Perils of Gambling on Gambling

According to this story:

For years, slot machines at Lincoln Park and Newport Grand have seen double-digit growth. But now — while the machines are still extremely profitable — they are not producing the same boom, and that could have grave ramifications for the state.
This year’s state budget is based on the assumption that slot-machine revenue would increase by 15.3 percent. However, data presented yesterday by the Rhode Island Lottery show that since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, there has been only a 4.2-percent bump.
While it’s early in the year and there are many other factors that go into the state’s budget, failing to meet the expectations could create a multimillion-dollar shortfall. . .
State leaders yesterday urged caution about the lottery figures.
“These estimates are preliminary and based only on the first quarter of the fiscal year,” Carcieri’s spokesman Jeff Neal said. “However, these estimates highlight the fact that we must begin to get control of state government spending. Rhode Island has the sixth-highest tax burden of any state in the nation. We will never be able to cut those taxes until we reduce spending.”
House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, said through a spokesman that he is concerned about the lottery but that it is “too premature right now.” Fox said he wants next week’s final report so he can see the gambling numbers “in the broader context” of the rest of the budget.

Setting aside the questionable practice of relying on gambling revenue to the degree that Rhode Island does, what was the thinking that went behind a projection of 15% growth? Doesn’t that seem a little too rambunctious?

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Fred on the Blog
Fred on the Blog
18 years ago

The state should just stop side stepping the issue and just put a casino in the convetion center. We all know it is wired with electrical every 2 feet. It would not impact area hotel revenue in a negative way as would one in West Warwick by the indians. The state would gain a dramatic source of income and they could then eliminate sales tax.

18 years ago

Although I’m opposed to almost all forms of gambling, I give Fred credit for at least trying to think outside the box on this topic. I know too many people who’s lives have been ruined by gambling addictions, and for what it’s worth, I’d prefer the state not have any hand in promoting it. We need to become less reliant on gambling revenue, not more.
There’s a big difference between a little state lotto that someone might spend a few dollars to play (though some prudes like yours truly, don’t even do that), to having people literally spend the rent, mortgage or college money, basically to support an already overgrown state government. One might make the argument that that is “their choice.” The problem with it is, when they have gambled away everything, ruined their families, and are down in the gutter, guess who ends up picking up the tab? The rest of us! If you want to see what casino gambling really does to neighborhoods and families, please visit Atlantic City, and go a few blocks beyond the casinos.
Rhode Island does need to decide what it wants: no or limited gambling with little or controllable corruption, or full-fledged gambling with overflowing bucket loads more corruption than we’re already used to dealing with. If you think the General Assembly is wading in it now, just wait and see what a casino would do!
On a practical note, how would you propose the folks streaming into a Providence casino/VLT place get to and from it? Do we really want to deal with even more traffic in and around downtown Providence?

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