NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 20, 2004

In November Oklahomans will vote on two issues related to gambling: the lottery and the expansion of gaming. Studies show, however, that cities revenues decrease and crime increases when voters say yes to more gambling, according to a commentary published by the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council.

Oklahoma's cities rely heavily on sales tax revenue to provide services like public safety and street maintenance. Should the lottery and expanded gaming pass, dollars that would normally be spent on retail goods will be diverted to gambling, say observers.

According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission:

  • Lottery players with the lowest income spend almost $600 per year on the lottery and the top 5 percent of lottery players spend more than $3,500 per year.
  • Instead of spending money on items that generate sales tax revenues for cities, those dollars are taken directly away from a city's bottom line.

Crime is also shown to increase with an increase in gambling:

  • In a survey by the NGISC of nearly 400 Gamblers Anonymous members, 57 percent admitted stealing -- to an average of $135,000 per gambler -- to support their habit.
  • Anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of spouses of compulsive gamblers have been abused.
  • In Massachusetts, 47 percent of seventh graders and 75 percent of twelfth graders admitted to having played the lottery; one report documented a 16-year-old's suicide attempt after losing $6,000 on lottery tickets.

Furthermore, Oklahoma's towns and cities will have to increase their services to respond to the social fallout of state-sponsored gambling in their community. While they are losing money because of gambling, cities will have to raise more revenue to respond to the social ills created by that same gambling, say observers.

Source: Timothy Tardibono, "Councilman Says Lottery, Gaming Would Harm Cities," Perspective, August, 2004, Volume 11, No. 8, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

For NGISC study


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