Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bill gives casinos all of the cards

Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece "Bill gives casinos all of the cards" (January 6th, 2010) offers yet another compelling reason why the concern of individuals over the right of others to gamble should be nugatory. Specifically, the author argues against a bill helping a casino open an extension, arguing that individuals who live near a proposed casino will be more prone to be "addicted" to gambling:

If Foxwoods is unable to open its proposed casino on the South Philadelphia waterfront before the statutory deadline, its license should be revoked. But S.B. 711 would empower the gaming board to give it an extra year to open at that location, which is extremely close to residential neighborhoods. Addiction rates increase significantly with proximity and convenience.

In addition to the six other reasons Corrections has given in the past, the Inquirer now adds another. Specifically, economists expect Tiebout Sorting to take place; in common parlance Tiebout Sorting is referred to as "voting with one's feet."

Individuals are rational and forward-looking about their decision-making. If an individual knows they are prone to becoming addicted to gambling, and if addiction rates are actually related to proximity causally, then we should expect those who are most prone to becoming addicted to move away before a casino opens. Additionally, we should expect those already addicted to move into the neighborhood.

Far from being a curse for those who argue casinos should be legalized and built, a causal argument about proximity gives a reason why harm from a casino is actually mitigated. The point Corrections is making is displayed graphically below (click to enlarge). Note that the average harm is lower with selection than without, because people who are to be harmed by the addiction they can see coming will select out of living near a casino.  Corrections further notes that "Actual harm done" in the second diagram does not have to be linear.  It could be increasing or decreasing.  It remains true that average harm across people will be lower than the average harm from no selection, though the shape of the line may be different than that displayed..

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention the fact that micromanaging the environment to control legal behaviors that a particular politician or group disapproves of is not a legitimate function of government.