For more videos, please visit our Vancouver Not Vegas YouTube Channel. There you will also find our list of favourite videos, which provide useful information on gambling and gaming expansion.
The TED video above, both funny and brilliant, demonstrates that citizens aren’t actually apathetic, they’re just victims of “constructed apathy”—intentional exclusion from political processes. Dave Meslin reveals our misunderstanding of what “heroism” is—that in actual fact, heroes aren’t chosen. Heroism is voluntary, messy, imperfect, and born of collective need not isolated individual action. His description of how City Halls hide development plan notices in the back of publications is quite comic.
The video above is testimony by Robert Goodman, Professor of Economic Development at Amherst. He is speaking against an idea similar to what we faced in Vancouver – a Philadelphia plan to situate a large casino in a residential area. (It was defeated). Goodman is a pre-eminent critic of gaming expansion in the US and has conducted many studies for the US federal government (both Dem and Rep administrations) as well as major foundations such as the Ford Foundation, detailing the often faulty economics of gambling as a form of economic development.
Interesting facts: Goodman comes from a labour union family and gambles himself (never slots, only poker). Highlights:
19:35 talking about why convenience gambling is an economic zero-sum game
20:15 case studies showing crime increases when casinos go in; looking at murders
23:35 “The only think you can count on is that “things will change” — revenues go up, then they drop, then you can’t keep people gambling at the same level — except problem gamblers. Then you need more problem gamblers, so you create them. The casinos need them; their profits are dependent on them. That’s why they want to locate in areas where there are a lot of people. The more people you can get to gamble, the more problem gamblers you’ll have. They’ll thrown a lot of money at addiction studies, at counselling, Gamblers Anonymous etc, but they need those people to keep gambling.”
25:11 “In Atlantic City, just 4 years after they opened casinos there, they lost 1/3 of retail business, lost 40% of their restaurants. Gone. How can restaurants compete with a restaurant at a casino where they make their money on gambling not restaurants where they comp meals or sell cheap meals. What happened in Louisiana, and this will happen: the restaurant and bar people will come back and ask for slot machines at restaurants. It happened! The governor of Loiuisiana is in federal prison right now for giving out licenses too liberally for money. They legalized slots at restaurants; bars complained they couldn’t compete; they legalized slots in bars. Then the gas station diners did the same thing. Now Louisiana has the highest level of problem gambling in the US, 7% of the adult population. Be careful! Minimize it as much as you can! Write into the legislation and control the takeout rate.”
27:36 Racetrack story about how the gambling industry pushes for more and more concessions. Share less and less revenue with cities, claim job loss (we’re seeing this with Paragon right now)
Goodman actually spoke in Vancouver in 1994 when the Steve Wynn waterfront casino was defeated here. Goodman is a professor of economic development, urban planning and environmental design at Amherst. He was Director of a two-year study funded by the Ford Foundation conducted at U. Mass Amherst that looked at the costs and benefits of gambling expansion throughout the US. He focused particularly on economic issues, but also on social issues as viewed from the standpoint of their economic costs. He was also the director of the US Gambling Research Institute and helped set up the federal government’s National Gambling Impact Study Commission. His comments on the “it’s a done deal” argument are amazing. He remarks that when you are accused of “tilting at windmills” you should remember that the writers of the US Constitution were accused of the same thing. Here in Vancouver, citizens fighting the freeways in 70s were told the freeways were a done deal, and today we are one of the only North American cities free of freeway blight. Excellent video – and some of the best moments are in the Q&A at the end.
A sample from March 8, Day 2 of the public hearing at City Hall on the proposed casino expansion:
For those who missed our February 9 public forum, please see our videos here:
In the US:
Above, Massachussetts Senator Sue Tucker, speaking against casino expansion in her state.