Gaming industry dilemma: local outcry against casinos vs wide support for gambling

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By Steve Shepherd
Vice President for Communications, The Saint Consulting Group

casinoThe huge disconnect between Americans accepting casino gaming and wanting a casino in one’s own ZIP Code is a result of the NIMBY syndrome, and the politicians and operators who are eager to expand gaming had better take note of this force.

That’s the advice of Michael Pollock’s Gaming Industry Observer in its analysis of the 2009 Saint Index findings on attitudes about casinos.

Americans in 2008 said by a margin of 84 percent to 14 percent that casino gambling is acceptable for themselves or others, the Gaming Industry Observer reports, citing the annual American Gaming Association poll.

But the Saint Index found Americans say by a similar margin — 77 percent to 21 percent — that they would oppose development of a casino in their community.

“Pennsylvania is timely Case Study A for witnessing the impact of the not-in-my-back-yard movement against casino development,” the Gaming Industry Observer reports. “The planned Foxwoods and SugarHouse casinos are not close to breaking ground in Philadelphia almost 2½ years after receiving their licenses due to fierce local opposition, and Foxwoods has attempted to move from its original site. Even before the licenses were awarded, Boyd Gaming effectively abandoned its proposed casino hotel in Limerick after a local outcry.”

Opposition to local casino development cuts across all demographic segments, the industry newsletter said, noting optimism among just one narrow segment in its analysis. “If casino developers are intent in building in a sensitive area, their chances of success increase if they appeal to lower-earning Midwestern men who have an associate’s degree.”

The Gaming Industry Observer said the findings demonstrate another reason why race tracks remain an important point of entry for the gaming industry: “They are already in people’s back yards.”

While opposition to development generally declined over the past year as the need for economic stimuli grew, the opposition to casino development remained steady, the Saint Index found.

The Gaming Industry Observer — — is published by Spectrum Gaming, a global gaming research and professional services firm. The newsletter’s readership includes corporate CEOs, slot manufacturer executives, regulators, legislators, attorneys, architects, investors, analysts and developers.

Steve Shepherd is vice president for communications, The Saint Consulting Group, email, phone 781 749 7290

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