For most people, commercial casinos tend to conjure up images of unscrupulous fat cats pocketing millions worth of house-edge profit. While there are some operations around that could be pegged to this unfavorable picture, this certainly isn’t the case across the board.
That’s right, there are casinos and other gambling companies out there that both directly and indirectly help give back to their communities. “Really? How?”, you may say, and “Why don’t I hear about it?” Both of these are good questions, so let’s answer them now.
The most noticeable positive impact brick-and-mortar casinos have on their communities is, of course, employment. Reports show that more than 361,000 people are directly employed in casinos throughout the 24 states where commercial casino gambling is currently legal. And with 20 of those states reporting revenue increases last year, the outlook for those employees, along with the industry as a whole, looks pretty good.
Boosting the economy
Of course, this is part of a much bigger picture. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), casino gaming contributes more than $260 billion to the national economy. When gaming levies and payroll, sales, and business taxes are included they, generate close to $41 billion in taxes. This figure is enough to hire 692,000 new teachers.
Giving back to the community
But let’s go beyond job creation and tax revenues and back to the grassroots side of things. Some casinos give back by adopting a regionally proactive approach, partnering with local community initiatives and non-profit organizations in their area. Take Ohio-based racino operator Miami Valley Gaming, for example. They partnered with their local branch of the United Way to guarantee every preschooler in Warren County’s public preschools would have books and activity sheets.
Casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa have worked together to help initiate and maintain the Pottawattamie Promise, a program that provides rides to a local community college for eligible high school students.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Casinos and gambling companies all across the US have made corporate donations, sponsored local projects and helped get programs off the ground without fanfare or fuss. In some cases, casino employees get directly involved, doing things like volunteering at homeless shelters to give something back on a personal level.
Slipping under the radar
So why don’t we hear more about all this good work? Perhaps the most obvious answer is because, on the whole, newspapers and TV tend to give more air time to those high-profile individuals who make a constant case for the abolition of legalized gambling. Their impassioned rhetoric usually makes for engaging news so you’re more likely to hear them than about a local casino paying for some preschool books. Plus, casinos that highlight news of their own good deeds invariably end up facing accusations of spin and propaganda from the same anti-gambling individuals.
But take the time to look and you’ll find it. Proof that, while all gambling companies are by no means virtuous all of the time, some give back a lot more than you may initially think.