Excerpts From The National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report June 1999
View the full report
http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/fullrpt.html

 

(___)  States should limit campaign contributions from the industry
NGISC June 1999 pg. 3-18
The Commission recognizes the difficulty of campaign finance reform in general and an industry-specific contribution restriction in particular. Nonetheless the Commission believes that there are sound reasons to recommend that states adopt tight restrictions on contributions to state and local campaigns by entities—corporate, private, or tribal—that have applied for or have been granted the privilege of operating gambling facilities.

(___)  Electronic gaming devices shouldn’t be allowed (bingo slots in neighborhoods
NGISC June 1999 pg.  3-18
The Commission received testimony that convenience gambling, such as electronic devices in neighborhood outlets, provides fewer economic benefits and creates potentially greater social costs by making gambling more available and accessible. Therefore, the Commission recommends that states should not authorize any further convenience gambling operations and should cease and roll back existing operations.

(___) Advertising should be banned
NGISC June 1999 pg. 3-18
The Commission recommends that all relevant governmental gambling regulatory agencies should ban aggressive advertising strategies, especially those that target people in impoverished neighborhoods or youth anywhere.

(___)  No policy decisions should be make w/o independent gambling impact study
NGISC June 1999 pg. 3-19
The Commission recommends that jurisdictions considering the introduction of new forms of gambling or the significant expansion of existing gambling operations should sponsor comprehensive gambling impact statements. Such analyses should be conducted by qualified independent research organizations and should encompass, in so far as possible, the economic, social, and regional effects of the proposed action.

(___)  The National Research Ccouncil and National Academy of Sciences thoroughly reviewed the gambling liturature for the NCISC
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-3
A separate research contract was given to the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences for the purpose of conducting a thorough review of the available literature on problem and pathological gambling. This review covered 4,000 gambling-related references, including 1,600 specifically focused on problem or pathological gambling. Three hundred of these were empirical studies.  Together, the NORC and NRC reports have added substantially to the publicly available literature on the subject and provide a valuable addition to our knowledge of gambling behavior, along with a clearer picture of the effects of problem and pathological gambling on individuals and their communities.

(___)  The NGISC recommends those in positions of responsibility to aggressively reduce gambling
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-3
the Commission is unanimous in its belief that the incidence of problem and pathological gambling is of sufficient severity to warrant immediate and enhanced attention on the part of public officials and others in the private and non-profit sectors. The Commission strongly urges those in positions of responsibility to move aggressively to reduce the occurrence of this malady in the general population and to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted

(___) Gambling within 50 miles doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-4
NORC examined the nearby presence of gambling facilities as a contributing factor in the incidence of problem and pathological gambling in the general population. In examining combined data from its telephone and patron surveys, NORC found that the presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers. However, this finding was not replicated in NORC’s phone survey data alone.

(___) Kansas City resident’s heartache that resulted from gambling
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-9
Mary began visiting the riverboat casinos in Kansas City, Missouri, shortly after her husband of 40 years died. “It was something to do. The lights, the music, there were people around. You could forget where you were at,” she said. March 9, 1997, marked the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. She decided to stay out that night to help forget the pain. She won several jackpots, including one of $28,000. From then on, Mary became a regular. Casino workers knew her by name, and treated her as a VIP. In 1997, she received 14 W-2 forms from the casino, each representing a jackpot of over $1,200.

But behind the wins were many, many losses. The money from her husband’s life insurance, his $50,000 annual pension, and Mary’s monthly social security payment all went to the casinos. She then racked up $85,000 in debt on her 14 credit cards. She was forced to file for bankruptcy. Not one did anyone in the casinos ever ask this 60-year-old grandmother if she had a problem with gambling. Instead, besides the free rooms and meals at the casino, she was also bombarded with marketing mailings. “They know you have no control,” she said. “They do everything they can to lure you in.”

—“Mary”

(___)  Gamblers result to crime to pay for their addiction
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-13
The National Research Council also noted the existence of a number of costly financial problems related to problem or pathological gambling, including crime, loss of employment, and bankruptcy. According to NRC, “As access to money becomes more limited, gamblers often resort to crime in order to pay debts, appease bookies, maintain appearances, and garner more money to gamble.” NRC also states that “Another cost to pathological gamblers is loss of employment. Roughly one-fourth to one-third of gamblers in treatment in Gamblers Anonymous report the loss of their jobs due to gambling.”

(___)  Problem and pathological gamblers cost society $5 billion per year
NGISC June 1999 pg. 4-14
In addition to the costs of problem and pathological gambling borne by the individual and his or her family, there are broader costs to society. NORC estimated that the annual average costs of job loss, unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, poor physical and mental health, and problem or pathological gambling treatment is approximately $1,200 per pathological gambler per year and approximately $715 per problem gambler per year.38 NORC further estimated that lifetime costs (bankruptcy, arrests, imprisonment, legal fees for divorce, and so forth) at $10,550 per pathological gambler, and $5,130 per problem gambler. With these figures, NORC calculated that the aggregate annual costs of problem and pathological gambling caused by the factors cited above were approximately $5 billion per year, in addition to $40 billion in estimated lifetime costs.

(___)  Small business shut down around Casinos – 78% in Atlantic City
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-5
In Atlantic City and elsewhere, small business owners testified to the loss of their businesses when casinos came to town. As evidence of this impact, few businesses can be found more than a few blocks from the Atlantic City boardwalk. Many of the “local” businesses remaining are pawnshops, cash-for-gold stores and discount outlets. One witness noted that, “in 1978 [the year the first casino opened], there were 311 taverns and restaurants in Atlantic City. Nineteen years later, only 66 remained, despite the promise that gaming would be good for the city’s own.”

(___)  No economic benefits come from convenience gambling
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-10
No economic benefit to either a place or a person was advanced by proponents of convenience gambling. There are no national statistics that indicate the specific impacts of neighborhood gambling and there are few significant state-wide studies.

 (___)  57% of 400 GA members admit to stealing an average $135,000 per person
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-13
In a survey of nearly 400 Gamblers Anonymous members, 57 percent admitted stealing to finance their gambling. Collectively they stole $30 million, for an average of $135,000 per individual.64 One witness before the Commission indicated that “80 to 90 percent of people in Gamblers Anonymous will tell you they did something illegal in order to get money to gamble.” A lot of them do white collar crimes, fraud, credit card and employee theft.”

(___)  Any given year there are 4.8 to 5.5 million pathological and problem gamblers with 15 million at-risk gamblers
NGISC June 1999 pg.  7-19
The two principal studies sponsored by this Commission found that the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling in America is troubling. NRC estimates that, in a given year, approximately 1.8 million adults in the United States are pathological gamblers. NORC found that approximately 2.5 million adults are pathological gamblers. Another three million of the adult population are problem gamblers. Over 15 million Americans were identified as at-risk gamblers. About 148 million Americans are low- risk gamblers. Approximately 30 million Americans have never gambled at all.  While some believe that lifetime prevalence rates are overstated, others believe that past year rates are understated.

(___) 20% of pathological gamblers attempt suicide
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-25
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The Council further notes that the suicide rate among pathological gamblers is higher than for any other addictive disorder.  A survey of nearly 400 Gamblers Anonymous members revealed that two-thirds had contemplated suicide, 47 percent had a definite plan to kill themselves, and 77 percent stated that they have wanted to die.

(___)  Families of pathological and problem gamblers suffer from a variety of problems
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-26
In NORC’s survey, 53.5 percent of identified pathological gamblers reported having been divorced, versus 18.2 percent of non-gamblers and 29.8 percent of low-risk gamblers. Further, NORC respondents representing two million adults identified a spouse’s gambling as a significant factor in a prior divorce.131 NRC concluded, “Many families of pathological gamblers suffer from a variety of financial, physical, and emotional problems.” reviewed studies showing that spouses of compulsive gamblers suffer high rates of a variety of emotional and physical problems.  In a survey of nearly 400 Gamblers Anonymous members, 18 percent reported experiencing a gambling-related divorce. Another 10 percent said they were separated as a direct consequence of their gambling.

(___)  Gambling causes an alarming amount of homelessness
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-27
Individuals with gambling problems seem to constitute a higher percentage of the homeless population. The Atlantic City Rescue Mission reported to the Commission that 22 percent of its clients are homeless due to a gambling problem.  A survey of homeless service providers in Chicago found that 33 percent considered gambling a contributing factor in the homelessness of people in their program. Other data presented to the Commission further substantiated this link. In a survey of 1,100 clients at dozens of Rescue Missions across the United States, 18 percent cited gambling as a cause of their homelessness. Interviews with more than 7,000 homeless individuals in Las Vegas revealed that 20 percent reported a gambling problem. Again, whether this is caused by gambling or by other factors related to addictive behavior is unclear, but homelessness and gambling should be included in future research.

(___)  Gambling can lead to spousal abuse – a 300% increase in one case casino
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-27
NRC cites two studies showing that between one quarter and one half of spouses of compulsive gamblers have been abused. Six of the 10 communities surveyed in NORC’s case studies reported an increase in domestic violence relative to the advent of casinos. One domestic violence counselor from Harrison County, Mississippi, testified that a shelter there reported a 300 percent increase in the number of requests for domestic abuse intervention after the arrival of casinos. A substantial portion of the women seeking refuge reported that gambling contributed to the abuse.

(___)  Children of compulsive gamblers face abuse and neglect
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-28
Children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of parental problem or pathological gambling. The Commission heard testimony of numerous cases in which parents or a caretaker locked children in cars for an extended period of time while they gambled. In at least two cases, the children died. It was brought to the Commission’s attention that cases of parents leaving their children in the Foxwoods casino parking lot became so commonplace that Foxwoods management posted signs warning that such incidents would be reported to the police. The well-publicized murder of a seven-year-old girl in a Nevada casino during the formation of this Commission has brought significant attention to the issue of children abandoned by their parents inside gambling establishments.  

(___)  Policy makers should look to the real issues at stake and not succumb to political pressure
NGISC June 1999 pg. 7-29
As the Commission noted earlier, in an ideal environment, policymakers and citizens prudently consider all of the relevant facts before committing themselves and their communities to major courses of action. This should be true for those communities considering the legalization or expansion of gambling activities, as the economic and social impacts of gambling are significant. Unfortunately, this is often not the case for a number of reasons. The amount of high quality and relevant research is extremely limited. The perceived lure of enormous economic benefits and tax revenues leads some to disregard potential economic and social costs. And sadly, today’s political environment places more emphasis on “spin” than it does on facts, and too many of these decisions are turned into high-priced ballot issues.

(___)  Gambling Destroys Lives
James C. Dobson, Ph.D. Summary Statement by Commissioner
NGISC June 1999
Clearly, gambling is a destroyer that ruins lives and wrecks families. A mountain of evidence presented to our Commission demonstrates a direct link between problem and pathological gambling and divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy, crime and suicide. More than 15.4 million adults and adolescents meet the technical criteria of those disorders. That is an enormous number-greater than the largest city in this country. When other activities, such as smoking, have been shown to be harmful, the hue and cry for regulations to warn and protect the public has been loud and long. Today, the silence of most of our leaders about the risks of gambling is deafening. It is well past time for a Paul Revere to sound the alarm. Gambling is hazardous to your- to our-health! (…)

In summary, the illusion of pain-free riches promoted by the gambling industry has been exposed. The very appeal of gambling belies the claims of the gambling industry, which is sown in greed and the exploitation of human weakness. It robs from the poor and exploits the most vulnerable. It undermines the ethic of work, sacrifice and personal responsibility that exemplify the best qualities of American society. And if you scratch beneath the veneer of gambling-induced prosperity, the pain, despair and hopelessness of problem and pathological gamblers is recognized as a stark tragedy.