I’m disappointed to learn the criteria for a new state-funded study of the socioeconomic impact of Iowa gambling. It requests data on markets, possible casino cannibalization and differences between communities with and without casinos.
However, it fails to request the most important factors of whether or not an expansion of gambling is in the best interests of the state. Those factors would require a study of the gamblers themselves. How many have a gambling problem? How many are poor? How many are elderly? How many are fully employed? What is the education of an Iowa gambler? How many are vulnerable to gambling? How many have health insurance and college accounts for their children or fully funded retirement accounts? How many would be affected by secondhand smoke issues? What percentage survives with social welfare? How many use credit to gamble?
Money is highly fungible — making it important to consider how the eventual and certain losses affect individual socioeconomic status.
Customer data is well-known to every casino — data carefully extracted from memberships and gambling history. It’s time we learn the full story of Iowa gambling. Then expansion can be carefully considered with the best interest of the state. “Market studies” are useful only to existing and potential new casinos.
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