When All Else Fails, More Gambling…Until That Fails
Revenue is down $100 million from what was projected. Twin River is in serious trouble, putting another $248 million in revenue for the state at risk. Faced with this, there has been renewed interest by the legislature to ask Rhode Island voters to allow casino gambling–again. It’s all too predictable. Back in July 2005 I wrote:
While gambling can be addictive for the individual, government can become just as addicted to the revenue that gambling generates. History has shown that the appetite of the RI State government increases faster than the revenue pie can be enlarged. Remember the windfall of the tobacco settlement? The future can almost be predicted. The legislature will inevitably earmark all of this new gambling revenue for necessary programs on which many citizens will come to rely. Eventually, another budget shortfall will occur and, rather than rein in government spending, another quick fix (like a Narragansett Casino) will be sought. But there are only so many magic bullets in the gambling gun. We have to deal with the root cause, too much government spending, in a realistic way or the false promise that gambling offers could end up hitting us all right in the wallet.
There are several ways to reduce government spending–pension reform, consolidation, plain old cuts–but that’s not what we’re hearing about. Instead–more gambling!!! Haven’t our legislators been vainly looking for the pot-o-gold at the end of that false rainbow for long enough?