Expanded Gambling Won't Be a Windfall: Silver

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 1:29 PM CDT
in this June 4, 2009 photo, a patron plays a slot machine at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The many states hoping gambling will revive their troubled budgets are in for an unpleasant surprise, writes Nate Silver for Esquire. Gambling is supposed to be recession-proof, but that hasn’t been the case this time. "The year 2008 was the first time in history that total casino gaming revenues declined throughout the United States," writes Silver, of FiveThirtyEight.com fame. In Las Vegas, they were down a whopping 12%, and they’ve fallen another 15% this year.

From Delaware to California to Pennsylvania, gambling laws are easing. But in 17 of the top 20 metropolitan areas, a casino is already within three hours by car: "Just about everyone who wants to gamble in the United States is already a morning's drive away from being able to do so," Silver writes. New facilities may simply leach gamblers from neighboring states. Some may find low-end customers—Vegas’ recent focus on high rollers has cost it dearly—but no one should expect a jackpot.