Michael Sokolove's NYT Magazine cover story this week is about the decline of the casino gambling industry—overinvestment followed by the recession, and oversupply of casinos which raises competition for a declining amount of disposable income. What will this mean for state tax revenue? What will this mean for Native American tribes? What will this mean for gamblers with money burning holes in their pockets?
It won't mean anything. This quote from Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera is really all that anyone needs to know about casinos:
"The more hands a player is dealt, the better it is for us," he said. Butera, who has an M.B.A. from N.Y.U., invoked a gambling term - "vig," short for "vigorish," meaning the house's cut of the action. "The math is the math," he said. "Over time, we'll make our vig."
Casinos always win. Due to math. Math that you cannot change, or beat, or deny. These particular casinos are in trouble because they spent too much too quickly, or were suddenly faced with too much competition for the same gamblers. But casinos, in general, will never be in trouble. Due to math.
Allowing casino gambling is tantamount to placing a regressive tax on the poor, uneducated, and/ or desperate. Just like Lotto tickets. Both are taxes disguised as "games." State governments that legalize gambling when they get in a tight financial spot are not finding some brilliant new untapped source of free money; they are levying a tax that falls mostly on the citizens who can least afford it.
We'd be better off outlawing casinos, taxing the rich, and giving everyone a free fucking frisbee. Go play outside.