Far too often, casino opponents make false claims against gaming. During an interview this week on NPR, American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman countered these claims. Armed with decades of research and data, Freeman took on arguments posed by opponents that are largely based on stereotypes and unfounded assumptions. You can listen to the short clip and read the transcript below.
Steve Roberts, guest host: “If you were sitting down with the governor, or talking to the voters of Massachusetts, what would you say in terms of the benefits, and what would you say, I asked the question earlier of Rachel, what are the red flags as well as the benefits?”
Geoff Freeman: “The first point I would make to anyone considering gaming is understand the facts versus all the rhetoric that’s been out there over the years, the antiquated myths, whether it be of organized crime that’s been out of regulated gaming for many decades at this point. Or whether it be this idea of who the customer is that goes into the casino. The fact is that the casino-goer today is a portrait of America. A plurality earning between $60,000 and $100,000 a year. Three quarters of them are setting a budget. Most of that is $200 or less.
Roberts: “A budget for what they’d lose–”
Freeman: “—a budget for how they will enjoy themselves when they’re there. Is it loss when I go to the baseball game? Is it a loss when I go to the movie theaters? Or is it that I am buying an entertainment experience?
Roberts: “Fair enough.”
Freeman: “And the same is true within a casino experience, the difference being you have the opportunity to win as well. This customer is that diversified picture of America. It’s a much different than the myths that have been perpetuated over the years.
“When you’re looking at bringing gaming into the community, first question you have to ask is, are you willing to overcome that? Are you willing to take a hard look at the law enforcement data coming out of Columbus, Ohio right now, out of Philadelphia, out of Pittsburgh, where it shows actual decreases in crimes since the casinos have come in. You see a much different environment.
“When you do that, as well, are you willing to look at the industry not for every last little bit you can squeeze out of it at the end of the day, but something where you want to build a world-class entertainment center that is the next hub of innovation of the entertainment experience. And I think too few are looking at it in more of a, the way you would have looked at it twenty years ago.
Roberts: “Fair point. And certainly people can get addicted to baseball, too.”