A new book edited by John Kindt, a business professor who has made a career out of tying gambling to every ill under the sun, argues that betting on games of chance "threatens national security." It's not just that "gambling addiction...is increasing among U.S. military personnel, hampering readiness." More important, whereas money spent on every other good or service stimulates the economy, money spent on gambling vanishes into a black hole:
Casinos drain money from consumer products and services, weakening the economic engine that ultimately drives defense spending, according to the latest volume in the three-part United States International Gambling Report Series.
"We cannot maintain a strong military presence with a weak economy," said University of Illinois professor John W. Kindt, a national gambling critic and contributing author and editor of the series. "Widespread gambling gambles with our national security by dragging down our national economic security."
Gambling siphons money from the traditional consumer economy, where an economic "multiplier effect" triples the value of every dollar spent by creating jobs that supply goods and services, according to research compiled in the first academic collection examining gambling and its costs to society.
And what is it that prevents this mutiplier effect from working when people spend money on gambling instead of movies, music, athletic events, skiing, or some other form of entertainment? Don't dollars earned by casino employees and investors "creat[e] jobs that supply goods and services"? Or is the money so embarrassed about being involved in such a sordid business that it stays hidden in their pockets, never seeing the light of day again?
Greg Beato noted Kindt's predictions of gambling-induced catastrophe in his May 2006 Reason article "Sin Cities on a Hill."
[Thanks to Bruce Bartlett for the tip.]