The loss limit does not cost jobs and removing it cannot save them

Last week the Secretary of State certified the initiative petition that seeks to remove the $500 loss limit and it will appear on the November ballot.  The Coalition behind the petition should be called the Casinos First Coalition as the funding for the initiative is coming from one source and one source only – Missouri casino companies.

The Casinos First Coalition claims that by removing the $500 loss limit voters will be protecting Missouri jobs but this claim is unfounded and Missouri voters wont be fooled.  The Casino First Coalition would like you to believe that because Kansas will be adding casinos and the Kansas City market may lose market share, the loss limit should be removed as a way to keep people gambling in Missouri thus protecting Missouri jobs.  The unfortunate truth is that the least important factor in determining where someone will gamble is loss limits.  The Missouri Gaming Commission’s Market Survey conducted by the University of Missouri St. Louis found that people choose gambling facilities based on proximity, the quality of the restaurants and facilities and the number of slot machines. It’s estimated that it will be at least 2 years until Kansas even comes online with casinos, but when it happens a lot of people will frequent those establishments over Missouri casinos and it will be because of how close they are to the casinos are not because of the loss limit.

Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star’s Lucky Numbers blog provides further proof that alternate causes are resulting in job loss not the loss limit:

Executives at Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos Inc. disclosed Monday that 244 employees have been terminated from the company’s eight U.S. casinos, including 31 in Kansas City.

“Regrettably, we have reduced our workforce as the economic downturn is more prolonged than many economists expected,” Ameristar chief executive vice chairman Gordon Kanofsky said in a prepared statement issued late Monday.

The job loss that could be experienced because of Kansas casinos will be the result of market forces and those forces are not being impacted by the loss limit – they are being influenced by the economy and the factors mentioned in the Market Survey.  In fact, the Survey went on to explain that 96% of those who gamble don’t plan to spend more than $500 gambling anyways.  For a complete break down of just how competitive Missouri casinos have been with a loss limit, please view our policy brief entitled “Missouri’s Competitive Outlook:  Is the loss limit hurting casinos?

Its clear that the loss limit is not hurting competition and that the loss limit has not and will not be responsible for any potential future job loss.  This argument is simply intended to scare people into believing that the very loss limit that has been around for 13 years not causing job loss will suddenly be both a reason for and a solution to future job loss.  Missouri voters will not be fooled by such red herrings.

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