What Payoff can You Expect From Gambling?

Focus on the Family

Odds are, it won't be what you were hoping for. Before you fall for the gambling industry's seductive promises, consider the facts:


Legalized gambling makes poor people poorer. It also adds individuals and families to the poverty rolls.

  • Gambling is a regressive form of taxation. The poor lose the greatest share of their income to gambling, as various studies show. 1.
  • A 1995 study of casino gamblers in Wisconsin found that half had household incomes below $30,000. 2.
  • Those with incomes below $10,000 comprise 7 percent of Illinois riverboat gamblers. They report median gambling losses of $1,900 annually. 3.
  • The poor and minorities are more prone to gambling problems, according to Henry Lesieur. 4.
  • The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that more than 1,000 Minnesotans file for bankruptcy annually due to gambling losses. 5.
  • The Detroit News reports that gambling-related bankruptcies in metro Detroit have increased up to 40-fold since the opening of a large casino in neighboring Windsor, Ontario. 6.

1.  Abbott, Douglas A., and Sheran L. Cramer, "Gambling Attitudes and Participation: A Midwestern Survey," Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 9, no. 3. 1993, p. 259; Clotfelter, Charles T, and Philip J. Cook, Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 100; Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling, "Gambling in America." 1976, p. 65; Borg, Mary 0., Paul M. Mason, and Stephen L. Shapiro, "The Incidence of Taxes on Casino Gambling: Exploiting the Tired and Poor," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, July 1991, pp. 323-332. 2. Thompson, William. Ricardo Gazel, and Dan Rickman. "The Economic Impact of Native American Gaming in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Report, April 1995, p. 23. 3. Better Government Association, "Statement of J. Terrence Brunner, Executive Director," Nov. 3, 1995. 4. Lesieur, Henry R., "Compulsive Gambling," Society, May/June 1992, p. 48. 5. Ison, Chris, "Dead Broke," Star Tribune, Dec. 3,1995, p.Al. 6. French, Ron, "Gambling Bankruptcies Soar," Detroit News, Dec. 3, 1995, p.Al.