Monday, December 17, 2007

Hoped-for casino boost faces long odds

From Crain's. Here's one good reason not to be under any illusion that casino gambling will be a panacea for providing more revenue for capital needs. Capitol needs being building roads, schools, public transportation and things like that.

So let's take a look...

As a downtown Chicago casino inches closer to reality, results from gambling forays in Detroit and other Midwestern cities suggest a limited payout here for the convention and tourism industries.

Three casinos near downtown Detroit, the first of which opened in 1999, have done little to attract more visitors or otherwise boost the city's struggling economy, according to Donald Holecek, a Michigan State University professor emeritus of tourism development. "People would come in for a day and stay in the casino," he says.

Chicago casino boosters cite a potential impact of as much as $950 million a year in annual revenue and 2,500 new jobs from a casino with 4,000 gambling positions, figures that could grow to $1.2 billion and 3,200 jobs for the hospitality industry as a whole. But critics say much of that would not be new money.

"The good thing (about casinos) is they make a lot of money," says William Thompson, a University of Nevada at Las Vegas professor of public administration. Casinos "pay a lot of taxes. The bad thing is they make the money off local residents. It's a zero-sum game."
A 'zero-sum game'? Ah, so these tourists who come in don't spend their money at these casinos? They're not gambling. That or there are no tourists.

Detroit may not be a good example only because I can only imagine that they aren't getting much tourism up there in the "Motor City". Might Chicago's attempt at gaming prove my theory correct that conventioneers and tourist won't spend at a casino? And yes, I do mean gambling.


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