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What Else Was in That “Report” Mr. Ehrecke Talks About???


      Wes Ehrecke, the President of the Iowa Gaming Association, has been present at the Town Hall meetings to release his findings from studies related to gambling in Iowa.  As you may know, he is the spokesman for Iowa’s casino’s and is eager to expand gambling into every corner of the State.  The report Mr. Ehrecke talks about often is the Gambling Impact and Behavior Study, a report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.  Mr. Ehrecke likes to use this report because it is one of few that doesn’t portray gambling as negatively as most other studies.  But what else was in that report if one takes the time to read the 100 pages???


1.  The availability of a casino within 50 miles is associated with about double the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers (p.ix).


2.  Pathological and problem gamblers are more likely than other gamblers or nongamblers to have been on welfare, declared bankruptcy, and to have been arrested or incarcerated (p.ix).


3.  Communities that host casinos, such as Riverside, will see bar, restaurant, and general merchandise earnings fall.  Per capita income stays the same, indicating the communities reap more jobs, but not necessarily better jobs.  There appears to be more of a shift in the types and locations of work than a net improvement of the local standard of living (p.x, 71).  The CARE Organization has been attesting to this all along—that bringing jobs to the casino town will cannibalize other jobs and businesses in the county.


4.  There is a wide perception among community leaders that indebtedness tends to increase as does youth crime, forgery and credit card debt, domestic violence, child neglect, problem gambling, and alcohol/drug offenses (p.x).  As other community leaders with casinos in their towns have attested, we should take the chance because these things will happen right here in Riverside.


5.  Problem and pathological gamblers have excessive rates of adverse consequences that have tangible economic costs.  While costs begin with the gambler, they spill over to the household, other family members, employers, creditors, and the community as a whole (p.38)..


6.  Cost of each problem or pathological gambler is between $5,100 and $10,500 (p.39).  If Washington County has 1% new problem gambler (or 210) new problem gamblers, the cost to our county will be between $1,071,000 and $2,205,000.  How many years will it take the casino to make up for their new problem gamblers?  Catfish Bend last year spent $24,000 to gamblers treatment.  Using their numbers, it will take 91 years for the casino to fix our new gambling problem.  By that time, we’ll have a new lifetime supply of gamblers.


7.  Problem gamblers have 120% greater debt than nongamblers and 25% more debt than responsible gamblers (p.46).  Even responsible gamblers that use the casino for “fun and recreation” have 95% more debt than someone who doesn’t frequent the casino.


8.  19% of pathological gamblers have declared bankruptcy, compared to an expected 10.8% (p.46).  How does this affect Washington County?  According to Mr. Ehrecke, 1% of our population (210 Washington County residents) will develop this problem.  Our county, according to this report, will have 17 more bankruptcies due to the casino, each costing the county $39,000.


9.  We can expect 1/3 more persons arrested and imprisoned (p.47).  They will cost our county an additional $210,000 in police costs.  The casino should pay this cost up front to our jail and police.


10.  Each of those 210 problem Washington County gamblers will accumulate $4,300 in debt as a result of “excess divorces.” (p.48).


11.  Our children will have lower academic and occupational achievement (p. 50).


12.  The numbers of problem gamblers in our county will be low, according to Mr. Ehrecke.  However, this report on p. 51 says that only 3% seek treatment.  Why is he ignoring the other 97%???


What the 9 Casino Town Case Studies in the Back of the Report Say (p. 77-79):


8 out of 9 towns had higher debt and bankruptcy.  This is because of the high number of people gambling with credit cards and cash advances at ATM’s near the casino.


5 out of 9 reported a high number of “working poor” that resulted in serious housing problems.


5 out of 9 communities had higher amounts of youth crime.  7/9 reported higher white collar crimes (forgery, credit card theft).


6 of 9 communities had increases in domestic violence and child neglect, and attributed this problem to parents leaving their children alone at home or in casino parking lots while they gambled.


7 out of 9 had higher suicides since the casino opened.


7 of 9 communities also saw an increased number in problem or pathological gamblers.


9 out of 9 towns agreed that substance abuse is a major problem in their communities and drew a connection between that and gambling.



What was the #1 Most Significant Result that Came out of this Study?


Two years later, the director of this Commission came out and published an article called “Gambling Backlash: Four Reasons for a Moratorium” and now believes that gambling should not be expanded in Iowa.  –Tim Kelly, Executive Director


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