Cincinnati’s Broadway Commons, once considered as the new home for the Reds stadium, is now going to be the site of the recently approved Horseshoe casino. Developer Rock Gaming and its partner, gambling giant Caesars Entertainment broke ground on February 4th at the site. The casino will cost $400 million dollars, will be completed late 2012 and will employ about 1,700 workers.
One of four casinos authorized statewide by a vote in 2009, this casino is expected to generate $517 million per year in gambling revenue. The four casinos together are expected to net the state $650 million in tax revenues to local, county and state governments.
What I want to know is where is this money coming from?
Forgetting the moral dilemma that gambling for the better good of a state’s budget presents, there are some clear dangers that casinos present to the general public. The majority of funds that are collected by casino gambling come from people who cannot afford to lose the money that they are wagering. I do not adhere to the belief that every adult can make their own decision about whether or not to gamble when it comes to the promise of a better life for themselves or their family. It is an addiction, just like alcoholism or drug addiction. The difference is that the desired outcome is wealth, instead of a good buzz.
Just because a business operation will net a great deal of money for the local, county and state governments does not offset the danger it presents to the people around it. Additionally, the community businesses that are in the Broadway Commons area are being enticed into supporting the casino by the promise of increased revenue and foot traffic. While some of this may be true, the average patron of the local casinos in neighboring states does not spend a great deal of money at the area businesses because they don’t have it left to spend.
An expert gambler would look for the best casino in town and even though it won’t match Las Vegas ones but still would expect blackjack to slot machines available rather than a small game like buktiqq.
The $517 million in gambling revenue per year comes from the profits of the casinos. This profit is made by people losing money. Big shock here folks, the casinos always come out ahead. The average gambler loses the money and the state and gaming companies profit from it. Guess what? Business is always good for these companies, especially in a recession.
Where does it stop?
If you asked me if I liked to gamble, you would get a very complex answer. I do not enjoy casinos. I have been to them and have spent very little money trying to see if it was really enough fun to justify the expense. It is not fun for me to throw money away. I enjoy wagering with my daughter on her grades however, with a lunch at Olive Garden or a new iPod on the line. To be clear on this, I would have taken her to lunch anyway.
The bottom line is that the construction of a casino in the great city of Cincinnati represents a beginning of something that I do not care for. If we are solely concerned with making money, then how long before the city or state bullies the constituents into voting to approve a house of prostitution or drug den? These votes are so frequently tied to other things that the state needs, and not independent of any other bill or levy, that I would not be surprised to see something even more undesirable get approved on the coat-tails of a school levy or improvement to state highways.