Cleveland Partnership; Claims Shallow Research Conclusions and Flawed
Economic Assumptions Made for Supporting Casino Gambling in Ohio
|August 24, 2005 - The Ohio Roundtable today released a detailed analysis
of the gambling study prepared for the Greater Cleveland
Partnership and a select group of business leaders. The Roundtable criticized
the Cleveland State College of Urban Affairs for publishing a report that
they state was clearly biased and focused on manipulating voters.
Roundtable President David Zanotti and Legislative Affairs Director
Melanie Elsey wrote the five-page analysis that challenges what they say
are the shallow research conclusions and flawed economic assumptions of
the Greater Cleveland Partnership/Cleveland State University report. The
Roundtable also questioned whether a tax-funded University such as CSU
should be publishing research for undisclosed clients whose motives are
to change the laws of Ohio for potential personal profit.
Prepared by: The Ohio Roundtable
The "study" produced by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University is packaged to bear the credibility of a serious work of research. However, the work carries a profound bias from start to finish. It is a bias that matches the special interests of the undisclosed corporate leaders who paid for the study.
The following brief analysis raises serious points of factual contention regarding the work commissioned by The Greater Cleveland Partnership and "Selected Cincinnati Area Businesses".
Who chose the "three important questions" regarding casino gambling in Ohio and why were just these three questions selected?
The study claims to be directed toward the purpose of helping "leaders and voters understand the social effects of opening casinos in the state." Why would any legitimate economic or sociological impact study be targeted directly to Ohio voters, unless it is designed to be used as a campaign tool by the sponsors?
Thus, in the very first line of the Executive Summary, this study is self- defined as part of a political movement to influence Ohio voters on the issue of casino gambling. This raises a bigger ethical/legal question: Are the taxpayers of Ohio, who help underwrite Cleveland State University's College of Urban Affairs, being used to pay for the private profiteering of a secret group of pro-casino business leaders?
Three questions are proffered as the basis of the study; all relating to the social costs of problem and pathological gamblers if 18 casinos opened across the state. By choosing to focus only on one of the complicated economic, political, legal, tribal and historical questions surrounding the gambling debate the authors have marginalized their own work.
"Existing and Future number of Ohioans with Chronic Gambling Problems"
In this section the authors fail to present a clear, logically consistent approach to the three questions they offer. They begin by quoting a range of gambling addictions that is static at 2% to 5% of the adult population. The rising rate of gambling addictions among teenagers is completely disregarded in their projections. They project only a 1% increase in addiction should Ohio, which has no casinos operating today, open 18 facilities in the next few years. Their 1% increased projection is a total guess. There is no statistical validation for this projection.
The authors concede 18 new casinos "could lead to an additional 109,000 residents becoming serious problem gamblers". The authors walk away from this conclusion as if it bears no real-life tragedy. It is simply a number, and most likely a low number at that.
The authors fail to even mention the substantive data compiled by the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the National Research Council for the United States Congress. (See the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report Table 4-2, http://www.ohioroundtable.org/gaminginfo/NationalGamblingStudy2.pdf). There is also substantial and readily available information from the real-world experiences of communities that have tried the casino gambling experiment. None of this data is considered by the Cleveland State report. An honest review of this data reveals the projected 1% increase in gambling addictions is anchored in thin air.
"Chronic Gambling and Personal Financial Issues"
Consider the abundant contradictions in the following language of the CSU report:
"People with gambling addictions do have higher debt levels and are more likely to file for personal bankruptcy protection. However, a statistical link between the presence of casinos and personal bankruptcy filings has not been found."
This language bears an eerie likeness to the writings of the tobacco companies in the 1960's and '70's. Because the CSU professors cannot find a study to statistically isolate the reality of the data, they play the mind game of ignoring the obvious - even after stating it exists.
Back in the late 20th century the tobacco companies said it this way. "We see that smokers die more often from cancer and lung disease than the rest of the population. But some smokers die of other causes so you cannot prove in any study there is an isolated, direct, one-to-one correlation between smoking and cancer and lung disease. We simply need more money and time for research."
The CSU study says it this way. "We see gamblers have real problems with addictions and social costs. They even go broke and kill themselves more than the general population. But science cannot prove gambling is the cause. Therefore, we need more money to help problem gamblers. The best way to get the money is to open 18 casinos in Ohio. More gambling will help solve more gambling problems."
"Chronic Gambling and Social and Health Problems"
After conceding, "People with gambling addictions are more likely than non-gamblers to have committed a crime or to have been incarcerated during their lifetimes", the authors state there is no connection between casino gambling and crime. They fall back to the discredited strategy of blaming increased crime solely on the increase of people that gather around a casino. Evidently, the authors have never ventured off the Boardwalk in Atlantic City or spoken to law enforcement veterans in that casino-dominated city.
Regarding health problems among problem gamblers, the CSU study disregards significant data from the Congressional National Gambling Impact Commission Report. (Table 7-1, http://www.ohioroundtable.org/gaminginfo/NationalGamblingStudy.pdf). In a clear case of Orwellian double-speak the authors concede problem gamblers suffer from greater "physical ailments, suicide rates, higher divorce rates, and increased levels of family abuse" but then go on to claim there are no studies that "isolate the causality" between these maladies and problem gambling. What further evidence does the CSU team require to validate the connection between these problems? Are they waiting for a "gambling suicide gene" to be discovered in the brains of dead gambling addicts?
How would the CSU team account for the suicide of police officer Solomon Bell, who gambled at the tables of the MGM casino in Detroit? The officer went into the casino, lost his money, pulled out a gun and killed himself right there on the property. The casino cleaned up the mess and kept on doing business. The same attitude of isolated denial seems evident in the CSU study.
"Chronic Gambling and Societal Costs"
The authors reject any causal link between problem gambling and the horrific problems gambling addicts experience. Therefore, the CSU team states, " ... it is not prudent to fix a net cost figure on the higher levels of problem gamblers in the state."
In other words, we cannot ignore the facts these problems exist but we cannot "scientifically" prove casino gambling plays any role in the problems. Therefore, we will pretend there is no real dollar figure associated with the human costs of casino gambling. Casino gambling will cost something, but we cannot project what it will cost so we will pretend the costs do not exist.
"Chronic Gambling and the Cost to Ohio"
In a crescendo of prejudicial bias the CSU research team offers a patronizing sop to the taxpayers and victims of gambling disorders. Since gamblers have problems, we must pay for the problems. Therefore we must open 18 casinos in the state so the state will have enough money to help gamblers with their problems. The researchers are clueless as to how to fix a net cost to these problems but demand Ohio raise enough money to treat the affected individuals.
The logic here is circular. We need at least 18 casinos in Ohio to pay for all the problems gambling addictions create. Forget attempting to solve the problem at the source and save 109,000 more people the horror of an addicted life. Just find a way to "service" their problems with increased gambling revenues.
State of Ohio Gaming Market Assessment - Executive Summary
This section of the report is a further attempt to distort economic
facts of the casino business. The report is inaccurate in the following
It is obvious that the research team from Cleveland State directed their efforts toward creating a positive spin for casino gambling in Ohio. Their work is similar to studies created by accounting and PR firms hoping to influence voters in the 1990 and 1996 statewide ballot campaigns. The economic and legal issues surrounding casinos have grown far more challenging as the casino industry battles the tribal community for limited gambling revenues.
Pro-gambling researchers and advocates consistently inflate the "lost revenue argument" to the Ohio media. In reality, there is nothing Ohio can do to stop residents from traveling to gamble wherever they choose. "Sealing the borders" is an unworkable and anti-constitutional concept. Opening 18 casinos in Ohio will drain at least $2 billion more gambling dollars from the Ohio consumer economy. This is money that is NOT being gambled today but is being spent on homes, food, cars, consumer goods, college tuition, charitable purposes and entertainment.
If every Ohio gambler stayed home today and only gambled in Ohio casinos, according to statistics from the gambling industry, the net gain to the state of Ohio would be approximately $300 million annually. That is a mere 1.2% of the current state budget.
The potential owners of the Ohio casinos would make billions but state and local communities would be left with a fraction of the proceeds - hardly enough to restore any economy let alone pay for the serious downsides recognized by all honest researchers of the gambling industry.
|Also See:||After Two Years of Study, Federal Commission Reports That Gambling Has Serious Consequences for America / June 1999|
|Is Gambling America's National Pastime? The American Gaming Association Makes a Case for It / June 2004|
|Comments on the Gaming Industry: Big and Getting Bigger / Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / April 1999|