State and local governments across the nation are becoming more and more addicted to casino gambling with the number of states permitting commercial casino wagering rising from 11 states in 2000 to 23 in 2012. Commercial casinos are founded and run by private companies on non-Indian land.
In order to win citizen approval of casino gambling, policymakers normally promise improved economic performance, lower tax burdens, and more dollars for education. With tax rates on casino revenues roughly four times the average sales tax rate, it is no surprise state and local policymakers become hooked on casinos.
Between 2000 and 2012, despite assurances from elected and non-elected officials, states with commercial casinos versus states without commercial casinos experienced lower GDP growth, 54.8% versus 62.6%, and inferior job growth, 5.5% compared to 8.7%. Furthermore in 2012, states with commercial casinos shelled out 15.2% of GDP in the form of transfer and welfare payments. This was significantly higher than states without commercial casinos of 13.8%.
And did commercial casinos produce lower tax burdens? No! For the latest year, citizens of the 23 commercial casino states suffered a state and local tax burden as a percent of GDP of 8.6%, while the 28 states and DC with no commercial casinos experienced a lower 8.1% tax burden.
Commercial casino states did, however, spend more on education. In 2012, gambling states spent 5.6% of GDP on education which was above the 5.3% of GDP spent by non-casino states.
Thus, the most recent data show that commercial casinos did not deliver on the promise of economic development and lower taxes. Instead, commercial casinos appear to restrain growth, increase overall tax burdens, and boost welfare and education spending.