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Several states are attempting to expand gambling to shore up state revenue.  One of them is Georgia.  There has been little serious checking of the downside of gambling expansion: increased crime, divorce, poverty, addiction.  As is usually the case, the benefits are easily seen in increased revenue (1-3% of a state budget) but the downside is borne by individuals and families and is easily ignored.  (John Kindt, “More gambling will prove costly to Georgia,” http://www.myajc.com/news/news/opinion/ )

Pennsylvania is another state locked in a budget dispute that is considering legalizing online gambling or slots at the airports.  Rosy forecasts for these proposals is $500 million in revenue.  Unfortunately Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware combined generated only $135 million in 2014.  It is always tempting to exploit with regressive taxes.  (Chris Palmer and Ben Finley, “Pa. lawmakers may agree on expanding gambling,“  Philadelphia Inquirer,http://articles.philly.com/2015-10-14/news/67381927 )

New Jersey is still trying to secure legal sports betting through the casinos.  This is following the failure of internet gambling which generated only $10.7 million instead of the projected $160 million.  The Federal Appeals Court has agreed to rehear the New Jersey case with 12 of 23 judges rehear oral arguments and read supplemental briefs.  (Joe Drape, “Appeals Court to Rehear New Jersey Sports Betting Case,”   (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/sports/ )

None of these expansions may be approved.  The sure thing is that if they are they will result in revenues far smaller than expected.  Revenues always seem to be projected as if no other gambling existed.

 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center