Yesterday I talked about the federal government's National Gambling Impact Study Commission. [Note: this is available online in PDF format at http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/index.html.] Although the study has been ignored by many, it shouldn't be. There are lots of solid recommendations. Here's just a few:
1. States should dedicate a portion of casino tax revenue to research on prevention, education, and treatment of problem gambling. Tribal governments should do the same.
2. Only those 21 and older should be allowed to gamble. The minimum age in many states for playing the lottery or gambling on horses is now 18.
3. States should curb political donations from companies involved in the gambling business. Both political parties benefit from the gambling industries contributions. In fact, each party banked about $9 million in donations from gambling interests.
4. Indian tribes that run casinos should use some of the revenue as "seed money" to diversify their finances and reduce their dependence on gambling.
5. The federal government should gather data on state lotteries, including demographic information on who plays. State lotteries should also discontinue aggressive marketing that targets impoverished neighborhoods or youth.
6. Governments should require "gambling impact statements" akin to the environmental impact statements required of developers.
7. States should stop the proliferation of "convenience gambling" outlets, such as video gambling machines in neighborhood stores.
Gambling is now legal in 47 states and has proliferated in ways that even astound those in the industry. Americans now wager nearly $600 billion a year ($100 billion more than is spent on food). The National Gambling Impact Study Commission is calling for a "cooling off" period and the implementation of nearly 70 recommendations. As I pointed out yesterday, legalized gambling is bad social policy, bad economic policy, and bad governmental policy. It's time to implement the recommendations.
I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.