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A report that the state is once again the biggest bookie in the state when it comes to generating gambling revenue is dismal news on a few levels.
The Associated Press reports that for the first time in 15 years Connecticut collected more revenue from its numerous lottery games than it received from the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort tribal-run casinos.
The reduced money flowing to the state from the casinos reflects the increasing competition they face in surrounding states; a situation that promises to get only worse as Massachusetts moves ahead with plans to allow commercial casinos to open there. Regardless of one's opinion about casino gambling, the reality is that Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are major employers for the region. As their gaming revenues decline so too will the numbers they employ.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes agree to pay the state 25 percent of gross slot machine revenues in return for exclusive rights to casino gambling in Connecticut. Slot revenues from the two casinos to the state peaked at $430.5 million in 2007, before the recession and competition curtailed slot play.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the casinos only transferred $296.4 million to the state. The state expects slot revenues to continue to decline in coming years. Some might argue it is good news, then, that the Connecticut Lottery Corp. has improved its ability to separate citizens from their cash. Thanks to record sales, the lottery agency transferred $312.1 million to the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2013.
But where would that money have gone otherwise? More savings, perhaps, or more money spent on consumer goods, generating retail and production jobs? Instead, citizens spent $1.1 billion in pursuit of some easy money. The few who win massive lottery prizes make news, driving sales. But the fact the lotteries are a hidden tax and ultimately a losing proposition for the vast majority of players is not found in the marketing. Studies have consistently shown those who can least afford to waste money are the most prone to lay down their greenbacks on state lotteries.
And soon to arrive in Connecticut will be electronic keno, raising more state revenues, and thinning more wallets.