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Fritz Feds

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Taxpayers League teams up with religious coaliton against casinos

The Associated Press reports:

An anti-tax group and a coalition of religious groups joined forces Tuesday against casino proposals floating around the Capitol.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota began airing more than $20,000 in radio ads that say the lure of easy money at casinos is "all a big lie."

And, the ad says, the costs to government far outweigh the benefits.

"How many times have you heard a case of embezzlement caused by gambling? Or check kiting? Or divorce? Or child abuse?"

The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition is urging its 8,000 members to contact their lawmakers and oppose new casinos.

The two groups point to a 1999 study by a University of Illinois professor that shows the costs of putting a casino in a community outweigh the benefits by $156 per capita.

The only benefit cited was $34 per capita for having a casino closer to non-problem gamblers. Among the $190 per person costs highlighted were $46 in crime and $27 in social services.

"We've sort of seen a runaway discussion here — we're just trying to slow it down," said David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League.

Brian Rusche, executive director of the religious coalition, called the social harms of having the state authorize a new casino "large" and "looming" and said it would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to other casinos in the future.

These two groups have it exactly right, in my opinion. Using casino gambling as a taxation mechanism is both counter-productive, as suggested above, and profoundly immoral. No matter what you feel about progressive income taxation, I think it is pretty hard to defend the tax policy of soaking gambling addicts (who tend to be disproportionately poor).

UPDATE: Looks like Mitch Berg is on the right side of this issue too.


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