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September 10, 2021

First-ever gambling losses prove nothing's recession-proof

It used to be certain things were iron-clad. Recession-proof.

Health care jobs were untouchable. Law enforcement wasn’t going anywhere. Tyra Banks was still going to be a maniac … always.

Yet this downturn has been unlike any that came before, and even institutions once thought immune to the state of the economy are falling without a quick fix in sight.

It turns out gambling, which once appeared alongside “Keith Olbermann will infuriate people” as the very definition of recession-proof, has tumbled for the first time as revenues deteriorate and casinos panic.

According to the New York Times, gambling hotbeds like Las Vegas and Atlantic City have reported losses, which simultaneously punch the states who have invested in the casinos (Nevada – down $122 million in tax revenue in fiscal year 2009, from 2008. New Jersey – down $62 million) in the gut.

Illinois, another major U.S. gambling spot, lost $166 million.

The unprecedented hit has even sparked a mini-debate on gambling philosophy. Some argue the decline is temporary and, says the Times, the industry still has “plenty of room to expand.” Others, however, fear the casino business has reached market saturation, whereby bettors will still spend the same but will now split it across a number of gambling options.

But then there is the issue of gambling in the first place. Detractors argue the jump in crime, personal bankruptcies and addiction in areas with casinos should offset most reasons for implementing gambling into any neighbourhood. And they’re right.

Proponents, though, have a fair point, too. Gambling does bring in new jobs, local vendor opportunities and tax revenue which – especially that last one – are crucial to communities with budgets feeling the magnificent strain of the recession.

So in any case, whichever social stance you take, money is lost when gambling suffers. These are the facts.

And considering a recent survey suggests 6 of 10 gamblers have cut back on betting since the downturn hit – for the sake of schools, hospitals and Taxpayer Funded Service XYZ – something’s gotta give.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...