As noted last week, now it’ s New York glomming on Las Vegas’s business with talk of a casino-convention complex near JFK Airport. Once lotteries were a ready gambit employed by states to raise revenues—all those dollar entries for Powerball can add up. But now more places go all in, defaulting to unadulterated gambling as a way to generate some jobs-any jobs and create tax base—any tax base.
I have nothing against gambling, but it’s the ultimate consumption based industry at a time when we need to be creating more, consuming less and saving. The casino business does none of the above. You can call it entertainment and a tourist magnet, but it feeds off many people who cannot afford the tab, and now it’s becoming commoditized and headed for a glut.
Casinos could cut it better in our pre-2007 time when ample credit gave everyone carefree license to roll the dice. But today it feeds into psyches hoping for quick fixes to busted finances at a time when average folks can least afford to lose anymore. And as we know, the casino trade is designed to let the house always win. If states and cities can get a piece of that easy action to reduce budget deficits, they are going for it, even if it is less than a zero sum game. So various governors and mayors can tout construction jobs, and the follow on array of service worker employment generated in the hotels and casinos. That can be a heck of a lot simpler than trying to land a high tech company or manufacturer. But is this the way to restore local or regional economic health?
It used to be Nevada was about the only state that offered casino gambling. It was kind of exotic and Wild West, a touch risqu