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Gaming Guru

 

Its Time for Those Who Work in the Gaming Industry to Speak Out

17 May 2000

Speaking at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Mississippi last week, American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf bemoaned that no matter how many scientific studies are conducted several myths about the societal impact of casino gaming still get repeated as fact. Mr. Fahrenkopf called upon everyone working in the gaming industry to learn the facts and do all that they can to make others understand the truth. Mr. Fahrenkopf stated:

"It's up to each and every one of us to make sure that any decisions about our business are based on facts, not anecdotes; science, not theories. We can only accomplish this by working together to educate each other, our customers and our communities."

Mr. Fahrenkopf noted that many gaming opponents predicted that the National Gambling Impact Study Commission ("NGISC") would send a death knell for legalized gaming in the country. However, the final commission report recognized the tremendous contribution that casino gaming has brought by way of quality jobs, capital investment and economic development. This happened despite the fact that a majority of the NGISC commissioners were morally opposed to any form of gaming.

He further related that one United States Representative (Frank Wolf (R-Va)) was so dissatisfied with the report that he ordered the United States General Accounting Office ("GAO") to conduct another investigation of the industry and its societal impact on Atlantic City. Just three weeks ago, the GAO released their report finding "no conclusive evidence on whether or not gambling caused increased social problems in Atlantic City."

Mr. Fahrenkopf gave several examples of the misnomers cited by anti-gaming advocates, despite factual research to the contrary, done by the NGISC, the GAO, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences ("NRC") and the Harvard Medical School of Addiction. He noted:

"One of the most difficult issues we have had to face as an industry is pathological gambling. While opponents have claimed that approximately 10 percent of our customers are pathological gamblers, this claim has been totally rejected. Research by the NGISC, the NRC and by the Harvard Medical School, School of Addiction indicated that approximately one percent of the adult population meets the criteria of pathological gambling. As the NGISC pointed out "the vast majority of Americans either gamble recreationally and experience no measurable side effects related to their gambling, or they choose not to gamble at all."

"While opponents of our industry have made outlandish claims about social costs of $200 billion annually, the NGISC-funded research conducted by the NORC placed the annual cost to society for all forms of gambling - casinos, lotteries, pari-mutuel wagering and charitable gaming, as well as illegal gambling - at about $5 billion."

* * *

"Another erroneous assumption about our industry is that the more people gamble, the more likely they are to become pathological gamblers. In fact, the NORC research found that while many people have gambled at least once in their lifetimes (68 percent in 1975, compared to 86 percent in 1999), the number of people who gambled in the past year remained relatively unchanged (61 percent in 1975, versus 63 percent in 1999)."

"An often repeated claim by our opponents is that a high percentage of our revenue, up to 50 percent, comes from pathological gamblers. The NGISC's NORC research estimated that 5 to 15 percent of the industry

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com