Ban on betting would boost ailing US economy: Critic

September 24th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) The US government should outlaw betting to help soothe a fragile economy, shaken by the worst credit and financial crisis in decades, according to a Illinois University professor.John W. Kindt argued that gambling is a multi-billion dollar drag on the economy, not the moneymaking boost touted by supporters. Cash merely changes hands from bettors to casino owners, he said, creating no products or anything else of value.

If the estimated $100 billion now spent annually on gambling - mostly slot machines - went into consumer spending instead, economic models show it would generate more than $300 billion for the nation’s slumping economy and create jobs and services, said Kindt. Congress should also repeal more than $40 billion in tax write-offs for slot machine owners.

A ban also would save hundreds of billions of dollars in costs to society stemming from gambling addictions, bankruptcies and crime that studies show increases when casinos open, he said.

“Number 1, a ban would pump prime the economy,” Kindt said. “Number 2, it would lower pressure on taxes because you wouldn’t have as many new addicted gamblers, bankruptcies and crime. So you’re eliminating substantial social costs, you’re improving quality of life overall and as John F. Kennedy said, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’.”

A ban would not solve the lingering economic turmoil. “But it’s a step in the right direction and would halt the spread of gambling that is destabilizing world economies and financial markets,” he said, according to Eurekalert.

Kindt said Russia re-criminalised 2,230 casinos and slot machine facilities in 2007. “What do the Russians know that the U.S. hasn’t figured out?” he said.

If the bubble bursts, he says, the ripple effect on the U.S. economy could rival the subprime mortgage crisis that sparked the nation’s latest economic woes.

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