WMU News

Expert addresses social, economic risks of casinos

Jan. 8, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Since the Potawatomi tribe first proposed building a casino in Allegan County, the potential social and economic ramifications of casinos have been on the minds of many in Southwest Michigan and across the state. Now, an international authority on gambling will offer his perspective on the pros and cons of casinos in a presentation at Western Michigan University Wednesday Jan. 16.

Dr. William R. Eadington, professor of economics and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, will give a presentation titled "Gambling with the Future: Economic and Social Perspectives on the Casinos in America" at 3 p.m. in Room 3508 of Knauss Hall. His address is part of 2001-02 Werner Sichel Lecture-Seminar Series, which focuses on "The Economics of Risk." The event is free and open to the public.

The presence of casinos has grown exponentially in America in the past decade. In 1999, it was estimated there were nearly 800 commercial and American Indian tribal government casinos in 31 states. In Michigan alone, there are 21 casinos. Only the state of Nevada has more.

In a 1994 Maclean's article, Eadington noted that while a casino's economic impact can be measured in terms of helping business and creating jobs, there is an intangible downside "such as increased financial distress within families, a greater incidence of spousal and family abuse and a higher propensity for embezzlement and petty theft."

Eadington has served as a consultant for governments and private sector organizations across the globe on commercial gaming issues, including gaming laws, casino operations, regulation, gambling legalization and public policy. He is the editor or co-editor of a number of books, including "The Business of Gaming," "Gambling Behavior and Problem Gambling," and "Indian Gaming and the Law." A member of the University of Nevada's faculty since 1969, Eadington has served as an academic visitor to the London School of Economics and as a visiting professor at Harvard University's Center for Addiction Studies and Kennedy School of Government as well as the Centre for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom.

Now in its 38th year, the Werner Sichel Lecture-Seminar Series is sponsored by WMU's College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Economics and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. For more information, contact Dr. Donald Meyer, WMU associate professor of economics, by phone at (269) 387-5531 or by e-mail to <donald.meyer@wmich.edu> or contact the Department of Economics at (269) 387-5535.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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