Casino Backers Commission Report Claiming Gambling Would Be Good for Arkansas

Today UALR’s Arkansas Economic Development Institute released a report claiming casino gambling would create thousands of jobs in Arkansas and provide billions of dollars in GDP growth over the next 10 years.

The report was commissioned by Driving Arkansas Forward, the pro-gambling group responsible for Issue 4, a proposed state constitutional amendment allowing four casinos in Arkansas.

It should not come as any surprise that a study commissioned by a pro-gambling organization would claim gambling is good for the economy. Here’s the truth:

  • Study after study has found casino gambling is linked to crime, homelessness, bankruptcy, domestic violence, divorce, and suicide.
  • Experts estimate that each pathological gambler costs society thousands of dollars per year in social services and lost productivity.
  • Poverty levels are well above average in counties in Oklahoma and Mississippi that have casinos.
  • Even if casino gambling did create jobs, that simply would not justify the harm gambling does to families and communities.

Casino gambling hasn’t bolstered Mississippi’s economy or turned Oklahoma into a business leader. It won’t improve Arkansas’ economy either.

Photo By Ralf Roletschek [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons.

Governor Hutchinson Opposes Casino Measure

Yesterday the Secretary of State certified a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing four casinos in Arkansas for the November 6 General Election ballot.

The amendment, Issue 4, would convert the racetracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis into full fledged casinos, and it would let casinos open in or near Russellville and Pine Bluff.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, at a news conference in the Capitol yesterday, Governor Hutchinson told reporters,

I will vote ‘no’ on the casino amendment because I have always opposed the expansion of casino gambling in Arkansas.

The campaign to pass Issue 4 largely has been bankrolled by the Quapaw and Cherokee tribes in Oklahoma, which together have donated more than $2 million to the casino measure.

Last week the Arkansas Department of Transportation criticized the advertising tactics the measure’s backers are using. Campaign material in support of Issue 4 indicates that casino tax money will provide funding for highway improvement. However, the amendment itself does not earmark any casino tax revenue for highways. Ultimately, state and local officials will decide how that tax money will be spent.

You can read more about this story here.