Category Archives: Studies/Research

Vast Majority of Florida Voters Want to Maintain or Reduce current Gambling Levels

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion attempts in Florida. Many times over the years Florida voters have had a say in the expansion of gambling in Florida, but most of the time, Florida families are at the mercy of the legislature. If the Florida House and Senate agree to expand gambling due to special interest influence, citizens and families often lack recourse other that perhaps trying to elect new officials into office. Because of such strong pro-gambling interests, an initiative petition is in the works to give the power back to the people. So what do the people of Florida think about gambling? Do they approve of the gambling expansion efforts at the State Capitol? Are they fine with all the lobbing dollars from special gambling interests flowing through the Florida Legislature? Or do they believe gambling expansion should be stopped, or even reduced? A new poll seeks answers and the results should open the eyes to legislators who are representing their constituents. Florida Politics online explains:

The vast majority of Florida voters — 84 percent— “want to reduce or hold the line on gambling” and 60 percent also “are less likely to support a candidate … that votes to expand gambling,” a new poll released Monday shows. The latest Mason-Dixon poll included questions on gambling, according to a news release from No Casinos, Florida’s anti-gambling expansion group.

The anti-expansion “feeling among Floridians carries across all regions of the state: North Florida (87 percent), Central Florida (92 percent), Tampa Bay (81 percent), Southwest Florida (84 percent), Southeast Florida (78 percent),” the release said.

“Tallahassee politicians need to get the message that only 8 percent of Florida voters want gambling expanded, and 84 percent want it left alone or reduced,” said John Sowinski, president of No Casinos. “It’s time to stop listening to gambling lobbyists and listen to the people.” In addition, he said most “Floridians don’t want their elected officials to expand gambling, because they know that more gambling hurts the quality of life for them and their families.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Advertisements

Guest Article: Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Florida Lottery Targets Poor Residents

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent bill introduced to allow Florida Lottery tickets to be sold on line in the wake of the Lottery Secretary resignation scandal. The downfall of lottery winners and the disadvantages of this form of gambling have also been heavily reported on. Now, the Tampa Bay Times has released an editorial outlining the disproportionate effects the lottery has on the poor:

The Florida Lottery recently introduced five new scratch-off games, a move that likely will boost the lottery’s bottom line at the expense of its most vulnerable ticket buyers. Scratch-offs, which range from $1 to $25 a ticket, are most heavily played by the poor. No one is forcing them to fork over their money, of course. But as the lottery tailors its offerings to maximize scratch-off sales and markets games in low-income neighborhoods, Floridians would be right to question whose interest that really serves.

The names of the games are straightforward and promote a potential windfall: Maximum Money, Bonus Crossword, Double Deuces, Lucky Seven and Fast $100. All cost between $1 and $5, with a top prize of $250,000 for the $5 game. The new options mean the lottery now offers 83 scratch-off games, which account for 65 percent of ticket sales. Why do the poor play them more? For the instant gratification, experts say. People in poverty see the lottery as a chance to improve their lives. It rarely works out that way, but ticket sales soar nonetheless.

The South Florida /Sun /Sentinel recently analyzed lottery sales figures, marketing data and geographical information to discover who buys scratch-offs and what it costs them. The findings are disturbing. From 2010 to 2015, sales of scratch-offs rose three times faster in poor neighborhoods than in other areas, and it happened as the lottery directed more advertising to poor and minority areas, the /Sun /Sentinel found. Those parallel increases point to a win for the lottery’s marketing department but no one else.

Gambling critics refer to lotteries as a tax on the poor. But unlike taxes, lottery purchases aren’t compulsory. However, like taxes, they affect populations differently. The /Sun Sentinel/ found that people in high-poverty areas spent an average of $385 in 2015 on scratch-off tickets. In better-off areas, the average was $245. Those figures validate the argument that lotteries are regressive and even harmful.

Where that harm might be mitigated — in increased money for education — inequality persists. Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships, funded with lottery money, are awarded to students who score in the top tier on the SAT or ACT. The high standards mean mostly middle- and upper-class students earn the scholarships, not poor and minority kids. That gap grew wider last year when the state raised the bar even more on Bright Futures in order to rein in costs.

These are salad days for the Florida Lottery, which is enjoying its highest sales ever — $532 million in July alone. Profits were up 17 percent compared with July 2015. But too much of the windfall is coming out of the pockets of low-income Floridians who are being lured to spend money they can’t afford to lose on a long-shot bet.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Poll Shows Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support Voter Choice In Gambling Expansion Matters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to help ensure the people of Florida have the ability to directly impact gambling expansion. Recent efforts have centered around a ballot initiative that would amend the constitution to require a vote of the people before any gambling expansion legislation can be pushed forward by the legislature. Voters in Charge, the group responsible for the petition, have secured the signatures to keep the process moving forward the bill is not before the Florida Supreme Court to ensure it meets the proper requirements. As the process moves forward, its important to know how well the amendment would do on the ballot, and a new poll aims to answer that questions.   The poll results, released by No Casinos and conducted by Hill Research Consultants, was outlined by Orlando Politics Online: 

– 69% support a referendum requiring voter approval of all gambling expansion decisions. Such a referendum, the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment, currently is before the Florida Supreme Court for placement on the 2018 ballot. Only 21% oppose it.

– 83% believe that Florida voters should decide gambling policy in Florida. By comparison, 7% believe the Florida Legislature should decide, 3% believe the Governor should decide and 3% believe the courts should decide.

– 72% indicated they would be less likely to support a political candidate who supports expanded gambling in Florida without a statewide vote. By contrast, 18% are more likely to support such a candidate and 6% say it makes no difference.

– 75% disagree that more gambling in their city will improve the quality of life for them or their families, while 18% believe more gambling improves their quality of life.

The poll was directed at actual Florida voters who voted in recent elections. The margin for error was under four percent, so the implications are pretty clear. No Casino’s President, John Sowinski, summarized:

“The will of the voters could not be clearer,’’ said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos. “Regardless of political party, Floridians overwhelmingly want a say in whether gambling will be expanded in our state. They understand the negative social and economic consequences. This is why the gaming industry continually tries to circumvent public opinion, hiring lobbyists and lawyers to push their agenda of more and more gambling in the Legislature and courts. Elected officials should take heed — it is not only good public policy, it is also smart politics to reject expanding gambling in Florida.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Gambling Taxes are only Short-Term Fixes for States looking for Sustainable Revenue Streams

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on various states expanding gambling as a means to collect tax revenue, often times at the expense of its own citizens. 100 years ago virtually all forms of gambling were illegal, but slowly, one state at a time, gambling has been made legal by states looking to take their cut of the action. Some gambling expansion takes the form of lotteries, other expansion measures are full-scale casinos. The sales pitch is typically the same, why not allow some harmless fun that will allow the state to bring in some much needed tax revenue, often times promised to local educational causes. Now, a new study confirms what many have claimed, that any initial gains a state looking to expand gambling may see, don’t materialize to long term benefit. Reuters explains: 

Gambling provides only a short-term fix for U.S. states looking to boost revenue without having to turn to politically unpopular tax hikes on income and sales, according to a public policy research group’s study released on Tuesday. The Rockefeller Institute of Government said more than a dozen states legalized or expanded gambling in the wake of last decade’s Great Recession.

“History shows that in the long-run the growth in state revenues from gambling activities slows or even reverses and declines,” the study said. The study comes as some states consider whether to expand gambling. 

In New Jersey, voters will decide in November whether to allow two new casinos in the north, close to New York City. Local officials in cash-strapped Atlantic City, currently the only area in New Jersey where gambling is allowed, say new casinos will cause the city to lose even more revenue.

With recovery of U.S. regional gaming revenues tepid, long-term headwinds will continue to weigh on the sector, Fitch Ratings said in a separate report on Tuesday. Barriers to growth include “slower wage growth, less certain retirement prospects for baby boomers, and alternative avenues for gambling,” Fitch said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Poll Indicates Florida Voters Want Final Say in Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch has reported on the ongoing efforts by those hoping to expand gambling in Florida. Most of those efforts have been unsuccessful and now that an election nears, legislative hopefuls should pay close attention to the results of a recent poll. The Tampa Bay Times provides access to the press release that explains that voters don’t want the legislature passing pro-gambling bills and they favor a Constitutional Amendment to require statewide support prior to expansion: 

Any discussion of expanded gambling, or limited gambling, may be on hold until after the election but a new poll out by No Casinos says legislators should keep voters in mind before making any commitments. Here’s the press release:

Florida voters don’t want elected officials who represent them to support more gambling in the state, and they heavily favor a Constitutional Amendment that would require voters statewide to have the final say on whether or not a form of gambling is legal in Florida. The poll of 604 likely voters was conducted by Hill Research Consultants, and is part of a candidate pledge package being sent by NoCasinos.org to all candidates running for the Florida Legislature.

“It is good public policy and smart politics to be against the expansion of gambling in Florida,” said NoCasinos.org President John Sowinski. “Floridians don’t want their elected officials to legalize more gambling, and Florida voters want to have the final say on this issue through a statewide vote of the people.” The poll consistently showed strong bi-partisan consensus on these issues.

The highlights of the polling are as follows: 73% of Florida voters support a proposed Constitutional Amendment requiring a statewide voter initiative for authorization of any form of gambling.

Voters are overwhelmingly less like likely to vote for candidates for office who either:

Support expanding gambling in Florida
Support expanding gambling without a statewide vote of the people
Support proposals to allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities

75% disagree with the statement that more gambling will improve our quality of life.

By a 63% to 28% margin, voters want gambling laws fixed before the legislature discusses any future expansion.

Voters think the creation of a new regulatory agency for gambling is more likely to expand gambling industry influence than reduce it.

Voters prefer that gambling issues be determined by statewide referenda, not local votes.

Voters overwhelmingly oppose the legislature granting new forms of gambling to pari-mutuel facilities. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Featured Article: How Often do Gamblers Really Win?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various studies involving the impact of casino gambling and how near misses can keep gamblers coming back.  Most people have also heard the phrase “The House Always Wins.”  But rarely do people really look at how much the house wins and how good the odds are at slots or other forms of gambling.  Casinos tend to advertise how their slots pay out huge percentages of money to draw gamblers in, but does that really translate to good odds for a gambler?  The Wall Street Journal examined the issue and provides some interesting information:

The casino billboards lining America’s roadways tantalize with the lure of riches. “Easy Street. It’s Only a Play Away,” screams one in Arizona. “$7.1 Million Every Day. We’re a Payout Machine,” reads another.

But how often do gamblers really win? What are the chances that a gambler will win on a single day or over a longer period? Don’t bother to ask the casinos. Although they gather vast quantities of data about their customers for marketing purposes, including win and loss tallies for many regulars, casinos keep such information a closely-guarded secret.

Now, thanks to an unprecedented trove of public data detailing the behavior of thousands of Internet gamblers over a two-year period, The Wall Street Journal can provide some answers.

On any given day, the chances of emerging a winner aren’t too bad—the gamblers won money on 30% of the days they wagered. But continuing to gamble is a bad bet. Just 11% of players ended up in the black over the full period, and most of those pocketed less than $150.

The skew was even more pronounced when it came to heavy gamblers. Of the top 10% of bettors—those placing the largest number of total wagers over the two years—about 95% ended up losing money, some dropping tens of thousands of dollars. Big losers of more than $5,000 among these heavy gamblers outnumbered big winners by a staggering 128 to 1.

Continue reading the full article can be viewed HERE For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Gambling Study Stalls: Results aren’t as Pro-Gambling Expansion as Some Hoped

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of pro-gambling interests to influence the voters and advance gambling expansion in Florida.  The Legislature hired a biased firm, with clear ties to gambling, to conduct a study to determine gambling expansion’s impact in Florida.  Many questions have been raised and alternative studies have been offered, but the results are in and some are stalling because they don’t like the results.  The Jacksonville Business Journal explains the study indicated only a moderate economic up tick in expanded gambling.  These results possibly allow room to still advocate expansion, but they certainly don’t provide the big impact some were looking for from the study.  The official results are being stalled while questions are being asked.  The Jacksonville Business Journal reports:

A $400,000 gambling report will be delayed because it is too confusing and needs to be reviewed for accuracy, according to Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples.

A draft of the report obtained by The News Service of Florida on Monday and released to the public Tuesday evening concluded that even a full-blown casino wonderland would do little to help Florida’s finances, and could even hurt.

“Overall, Spectrum believes that the expansion of casino gambling, whether on a small scale or very large scale, would have, at best, a moderately positive impact on the state economy,” the draft report said.

While the “vast majority of the report is in its final form,” Spectrum needed more time to “answer questions posed by State Economist Amy Baker and clarify statistical tables related to the REMI economic impact model,” Gaetz, who along with Weatherford signed off on the delay, wrote in a memo to the Senate late Tuesday.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION