Governor Scott Walker has denied the Menominee Nation's request to build an off-reservation casino at Kenosha's Dairyland Greyhound Park, this past January. When he was pressed again in February, his answer was still no. His main objection was the possibility of the state - and therefore taxpayers - owing hundreds of millions of dollars in the future. Many said it was a very low risk, but Walker was not willing to take that gamble. What about casinos? Are they actually good for the economy? How about Indian casinos? Are they a good thing for Indian tribes?
In most cases, tribe members see very little or none of the profits, except for a select few (the prominent ones in the tribe). Most Indian casinos make just enough to pay the bills, and in many cases, they are in debt, with no money disbursement at all! How can that be? Aren't they making a lot of money? In some cases, yes, but in other cases, not so much. The ones that are making a considerable amount of revenue must first pay federal taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, and local taxes. After that, they have to pay on the massive bank loan for the construction of the casino. Then, they have to pay their employees and all the other overhead. And that does not take into account what is stolen or wasted. A casino can make thousands, even millions of dollars a day from gamblers, and still have little or nothing to show afterwards!
Many casinos (both Indian and non-Indian) stay in debt. Did you know that most of the casinos in Las Vegas - even ones making a million dollars or more each day - are operating at a loss? There sure is a lot of money being generated, so where is it going?!
1) The government... big time! Federal, state, and local governments are all raking in money by the truckload, and wasting it too! That is why the government loves lotteries and other gambling venues!
2) Banks and other financial institutions that hold the construction loans and other loans.
3) Gambling cheats that siphon millions of dollars every day!
4) High-salary employees.
5) The less than 5% of gamblers who actually win.
Casinos do create a lot of jobs, but are they worth it? Casinos take business away from other local businesses. Gamblers who would normally buy household goods and services end up having less money to do so. Businesses, especially those on the other side of town, suffer revenue loss, and are forced to lay off workers. It is inevitable! There is only so much money to go around!
I saw these issues firsthand last summer, when I took a trip with one of my daughters to South Dakota. We went to the casino at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and saw many things in disrepair. When we drove through the city of Pine Ridge, some miles away, we could not find any positive side effects from having a casino nearby, except for the few dozen employees that worked at the casino. Pine Ridge remains one of the poorest reservations in the United States.
We also visited some friends in Las Vegas, who told us to stay out of certain sections of the city. But my daughter and I agreed that this would be an eye-opening experience. It was! Since we had never been to Las Vegas before, we didn't know what to expect. We found the Las Vegas Strip to be shocking, gaudy, and grossly extravagant. But when we drove just a few miles away to the "forbidden" areas, it was like night and day! It was shocking in another way... extremely poor conditions were prevalent in these neighborhoods, and yes, some neighborhoods were even dangerous. There were too many people living in poverty or near-poverty! It was very disheartening!
So, are casinos the answer to a better economy? No, they're not. Studies show that casinos bring higher drug traffic and crime to an area, and certainly more gambling addictions. Because of these things, more and more families are torn apart. Any positive points about a city having casinos are drowned out by a host of negative ones!