This morning on local talk radio station WGMD, Delaware State Representative Pete Schwartzkopf was in studio with Dan Gaffney.
Rep. Schwartzkopf came by to discuss expanding the number of casinos in Delaware from the current number of three, to five. Rep. Schwartzkopf was also there to discuss the recent release of the Delaware Gambling Commission’s report on increasing the number of casinos in Delaware. The report is only a recommendation for the state legislature.
To begin with, a majority of the Gambling Commission recommended against increasing the number of casinos in Delaware from three to five. Rep. Schwartzkopf was a member of the commission and was in favor of expansion.
Rep. Schwartzkopf attempted to make the case that Delaware could increase the amount of revenue that is generated by gambling in the state, merely by increasing the number of locations at which people could gamble.First off , are there people standing outside of the current casinos waiting for hours to get in, so they can lose their money to the state ? I don’t think so.
I argue that this is not the case. I argue that there are only so many gambling dollars out there and that no matter how many locations you create , you will not significantly increase the amount of revenue. The commission also seems to believe this , since they stated in their report that the three current locations would see a revenue drop if new locations were approved. Maybe as much as 15%.
Let us look at the gambling dollars out there to be had, and let us think of them as a pie. It doesn’t matter if we cut the pie into three pieces or five pieces, we still have the same amount of pie, just smaller pieces. This brings up another of Rep. Schwartzkopf’s reasons for expansion, he feels that the current owners of the three casinos in Delaware are somehow acting improperly, that acting to protect their profits is somehow wrong of them.
Rep. Schwartzkopf also made his case based on creating new jobs in Delaware. He stated that expansion would create five thousand new jobs. Mr. Schwartzkopf did not say how many of these jobs would be construction jobs and how many would be permanent jobs. He did mention the reports findings that expansion would cause job losses at the current casinos, maybe as many as twenty-two hundred, that means that expansion would really only create a net gain of two thousand eight hundred new jobs. Not bad unless you are one of the twenty-two hundred people who currently have a job, but won’t if expansion is approved.
Rep. Schwartzkopf made the statement that his main concern was the creation of jobs. Well this is exactly what you would expect to hear from a Democrat . Let us face facts here, the labor lobby is in favor of expansion, labor historically has supported Democrats. So when Mr. Schwartzkopf complains of the lobbyist for the current casino owners, I find it disingenuous.
Also, if Mr. Schwartzkopf is only interested in creating jobs, I challenge him to propose legislation that would remove the state of Delaware from the business of collecting a share of the profits from gambling. Not likely since the state is only interested in expanding gambling in an attempt to increase revenue so that those in the state Capital who think as Mr. Schwartzkopf does, can keep on increasing the size and scope of government.
Let us not forget that Rep. Schwartzkopf was out front on bringing sports betting to Delaware, and let us not forget what a fiasco that has been. Now he seems to want to once again take the lead on an issue that is doomed to fail in its proposed goal.
Expanding the number of casinos in Delaware will not increase the amount of dollars spent on gambling, it will not draw more tourist to the state . Often we hear from those on the side of expansion that we must do this to counter act the fact that surrounding states are going to expand their gambling operations. This is akin to the arms race of the cold war. They build a casino, we build two, we add more slots they add more slots. And of course the ace up the sleeve is table gambling, how long before we are told that we must institute table gambling or lose all chances of competing with surrounding states. And just like the arms race during the cold war, the end result is guaranteed mutual destruction.
In my view , gambling has been a losing game for Delaware. Over the years since we started with the lottery and since we instituted slots and now with betting on the NFL, we have constantly been told by Dover that all we need do, to solve all of our budget woes, is to once again add or expand gambling in some form. Now we are told if we just open more casinos, we can once again solve our budget troubles. Don’t you believe it. Even if we expand the number of casinos, the surrounding states will go froward with their plans of expansion also, again slicing the pie into more pieces, but not creating more pie.
Expansion may have some marginal short term effects on employment, but for the most part it is nothing more than a case of moving the profits of one location to that of another, while doing little to increase the revenue of the state.