For those who promote legalized gambling as a way to revitalize the economy or pay for public schools, the news from Atlantic City, NJ, is sobering. For a while, Atlantic City seemed to prosper. People rode buses from all over the northeast to sit in casinos for hours, but casino revenues have fallen to 25-year lows. Within the last year, five of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos closed their doors. The closed casinos have eliminated 8,000 jobs in a city whose unemployment rate was already twice the national average, and the assessed value of the unoccupied properties will have to be sharply reduced.
Atlantic City parallels what happened in Alton, Illinois, where my husband and I lived for 44 years raising our six children. A riverboat casino was touted as the new “services” economy to replace the manufacturing plants that once supported over 10,000 families. After the original investors cashed in their chips a decade ago, Alton’s casinos steadily declined to about half of their original revenue.
New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie committed his state to enter the field of internet gambling. This new phenomenon enables people to lose their life’s savings in one fit of depression, without even leaving their office or home. Internet betting preys on the compulsive gambler because it invites him to feed his habit in secret, without criticism by family or friends. Chris Christie’s bet on internet gambling has turned sour, and the state’s actual revenue from internet gambling is 95% less than the state had originally projected.
The lesson of New Jersey and Gov. Christie’s bad bet on gambling should not be lost on Republicans who are right now vetting presidential candidates for 2016.
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Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.
Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.