Local Gambling Effects due To The Commission
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. 144 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. 145 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.
In its case studies of 10 casino communities, NORC reported, “Six communities had one or more respondents who said they had seen increases in child neglect, and attributed this increase at least in part to parents leaving their children alone at home or in casino lobbies and parking lots while they went to gamble.” 146 Respondents in these communities did not report noticeable increases in child abuse. NORC noted that the casino effect was not statistically significant for the infant mortality measure. The NRC, however, reported on two studies indicating between 10 and 17 percent of children of compulsive gamblers had been abused. 147
While it is important for this Commission to acknowledge that, in certain areas, especially those which had been economically depressed, the advent of casino gambling has produced localized benefits to the communities in the form of new and better jobs, increased purchasing power, and social support facilities (such as schools and hospitals), it is not appropriate to speak of those benefits without immediately acknowledging both the unknown, and presently unmeasured negative effects in those same communities experienced by those citizens who develop problem or pathological gambling habits and the wave effects which those persons cause in their families, workplaces, and local communities. Nor is it appropriate to ignore the negative effects that the introduction of legalized gambling in one community may have on the surrounding communities within its area of influence. Elsewhere in this Report the Commission has recommended that states require that thorough impact studies be conducted before new gambling facilities are permitted. That is not a reflection of a bias against gambling facilities, but rather an acknowledgment of the paucity of evidence of net impact derived from the introduction of gambling into an area where it does not already exist. The Commission is committed to the idea that local government agencies should make careful and informed decisions about whether to permit gambling into their respective jurisdictions. Since proposals for the introduction of new gambling facilities are usually accompanied by assurances of economic benefit to the community or region, it is reasonable to expect that there should be a careful and well-documented study of all aspects of gambling, the economic and social benefits and economic and social costs, before new facilities are approved. That is no more than the careful analysis that is required in most zoning and developmental planning decisions.
142 “The House Never Loses and Maryland Cannot Win: Why Casino Gaming Is a Bad Idea,” Report of Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. on the Impact of Casino Gaming on Crime, Presented to the Joint Executive-Legislative Task Force to Study Commercial Gaming Activities in Maryland at 32-33 (October 16, 1995). 143 Arnie Wexler, before the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Atlantic City, New Jersey (January 22, 1998). (Wexler Associates); Joe Lambe, Kansas City Woman Found Guilty of ’95 Murder, Kansas City Star (December 14, 1996), at C1; and Petula Dvorak, Marrero Man Kills Wife, Self; Daughter Hears Shots, New Orleans Times-Picayune (May 8, 1998), Pg. A1. 144 Arnie Wexler, ibid. 145 Stephanie Saul, Tribe Bets on Growth; High Stakes Foxwoods Expansion Not Welcomed by All, Newsday (Aug. 11, 1997). 146 NORC, at 78. 147 NRC, at 5-2.