LETTER TO THE EDITOR
On October 12 in
Budget Crisis: Gamblers Could be Hooked on Slots, you reported that OMalley has floated the idea of giving $6 million to programs for problem gamblers to help minimize the potential addiction problems. Does he, or any other supporter of slots, have a clue how much slots REALLY cost?
According to research done by University of Nevada, Las Vegas professors Schwer, Thompson and Nakamuro, Beyond the Limits of Recreation: Social Costs of Gambling in Southern Nevada, the total estimated annual cost per problem gambler is $19,085.
Treatment is just ONE factor in social costs. You need to include the costs to Employers ($6,017) in missed work, productivity losses, unemployment; Bad Debts & Civil Court ($10,291) in bankruptcy debt loss and civil court costs (bankruptcy/debt/divorce); the Criminal Justice System ($2,341) from theft, arrests, incarceration, probation; and Treatment & Social ($436) costs for treatment, welfare, food stamps, etc. Treatment costs are averaged and include those whose insurance pays these costs.
The gambling industry figure says that "only" 1% of the total population is "pathological" and at least twice that number are "problem" gamblers. So very conservatively that means at least 168,000 citizens will cost us more than $3 BILLION annually. Slots aren't even projected to bring in that amount, so the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.
If Marylanders will do real research on this issue, they will find that slots will quickly cost more than they will bring in in revenue. Slots are a sham.
Berlin, Germany, formerly of Glen Burnie, Md.