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Engines for economic development

Engines for economic development

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These days, barely a week passes without us reading about proposals for new casino development in some distant corner of the second or third world. With strong opposition from traditionalists or religious groups almost always a factor, the pleasing and tourist-driven description ‘integrated resort’ seems to have been created specifically to soften the entire notion.

In the end, the decisions that surround these things almost always come down to money, and in order to make this reality more palatable, developers must focus on, and accentuate, the positives.

Whilst it is true that casinos are places of casual entertainment, and that gambling can be a difficult pastime for even some entire nationalities to accept, the most positive message that the land-based sector can deliver is that well planned and well managed casino developments serve as powerful engines for local economic development, delivering many positive impacts upon the cities and regions that are their homes.

Hugely significant economic impact

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 9,000 casino establishments, with the US predictably leading the way with well over 2,000. Europe has almost 4,000. But despite their huge populations, it is regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America that must offer the most long-term potential to developers and governments alike. Done right, the economic impact of casino development can be hugely significant and, obviously, the first point of order is that casinos generate tax revenues for both national and local governments. How these revenues are then spent is the responsibility of these governments themselves, and the casino owners are never to blame if these vast sums are spent unwisely or inappropriately.

Following what seems to be the stabilisation of the Covid-19 pandemic globally, the legalisation and development of casino projects across different nations is now once again on the rise. Recovery from the impact of the pandemic is clearly a factor, but it is also a fact that casinos have repeatedly been shown to generate economic benefits for the regions in which they are located.

Massive direct and indirect employment opportunities

Taking the tax revenues out of the equation for a moment, casino developments create whole swathes of direct and indirect employment opportunities and other economic opportunities across the regions in which they exist. From day one, design and construction personnel, plus further tradespeople from all exterior and interior sectors, are required to build the actual resorts, and these multi-million-dollar projects take years to compete to perfection. And once completed, they need to be maintained. Once open, an integrated resort provides hundreds of job opportunities and countless opportunities for local businesses to supply goods and services, expanding their own operations to meet the increased demand generated by the resort. This will then create a ‘domino-effect’ on the local economy, as these businesses then have more cash to invest in further expansion and diversification, thereby creating even more opportunities.

Tourists bring in new money to any local economy

In terms of the very purpose of an integrated casino resort – the attraction of visitors to a locality – the impact of tourists on any local economy has been well-documented for decades. Whether it is the Costa del Sol in Spain or the Strip in the heart of Las Vegas, tourists bring in money from outside of the local economy and inject it into the local economy by spending it on accommodation, food, drink, entertainment and, yes, gambling. This discretionary expenditure helps to support and grow local businesses and create further opportunities across a local economy.

Taxation is the goose that lays golden eggs

But clearly, the most visible means by which casino developments can boost localised economies is through the generation of taxation revenues. And this can – and should – be at least a ‘triple-whammy’ for the community, with an initial, non-returnable licence application fee being followed by both national and local taxes on a casino’s gaming earnings. These charges should generate vast sums of money, and these vast sums of money should be used to fund vital infrastructure projects, support essential public services and attract further inward investment. In short, whatever the anti-gambling lobbyists may wish wider society to believe, the taxes collected from casino gaming should be used to improve the quality of life of the citizens in the regions of the casinos themselves.

The most generous supporters of communities

For several reasons, some commercial and some social, casinos are invariably amongst the most generous supporters and sponsors of locally based charities and community associations. Whether this be sponsoring local sports teams in order to promote the casino or donating to local charitable bodies in order to generate goodwill across the community, the motivation is largely unimportant. The simple fact is, all of this money is used for good purposes, supporting local communities that might not otherwise have access to such resources.

In summary, as we said at the outset, well-developed and sensitively managed casino and integrated resort developments can deliver numerous positive impacts upon the economy and general societal wellbeing of a chosen town, city or region. These developments create hundreds, even thousands, of new jobs, they attract visitors who come to spend, and they generate huge tax revenues, thereby supporting and growing local economies. These developments, especially in this more modern and enlightened era, are not sinister havens of disrepute or dens of iniquity, they are just businesses like so many others, trying to deliver the best products and services they can to an audience that wishes to take a break from their own labours and relax and have fun. How can that possibly be such a bad thing…?