The Limits of Legal Gambling

A Charles Bagli article makes the point that one problem with the “gamble our way to prosperity” economic development strategy is that it doesn’t work well if everyone does it simultaneously:

The Marcuses’ three-day pilgrimage had taken them across a region suddenly awash in slot parlors and Las Vegas style casinos, what with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania getting in on the action. And the competition between the gambling halls is growing fiercer.

Mount Airy, the working-class resort once known for its red heart-shaped bathtubs, is one of three dozen combatants in a market where the only way to survive is by taking customers from a rival.

New Jersey is so worried about a $1 billion drop in annual revenue at its 11 Atlantic City casinos that Gov. Chris Christie proposed a state takeover of the gambling district and a large cash infusion to rejuvenate the beachfront resort.


Maybe at some point increasingly intense competition will inspire someone to stop offering less-terrible odds? The only thing that really puzzles me in this policy space is some jurisdictions’ proclivity for legalizing video poker and slots without legalizing table games. The same paternalistic considerations (ultimately unpersuasive in my view, but I see where people are coming from) should apply either way, but at least with table games you get jobs.