Hayride Radio 4-22-19: The ROI Of Legalized Sports Gambling

The Monday installment of Hayride Radio involves a discussion between co-hosts Brian Haldane and Scott McKay over a Baton Rouge Business Report article discussing the disappointing revenue figure turned in by casino sports books in Tunica, Mississippi since sports gambling was legalized in the Magnolia State…

So far, sports betting revenue has brought in only half of what Tunica officials expected, and state tax revenue from Tunica’s casinos, about $630 million annually, is just a fraction of what it once was.

The disappointing early results in Tunica and elsewhere across the country counters the optimistic projections numerous Louisiana legislators have been citing in their quest to legalize sports betting here.

Scott Barber, regional president of Caesars Mid-South and chairman of the Tunica Tourism Commission, says that the crowds the casinos had hoped for had not materialized. But he said it was premature to judge whether sports betting had been a failure.

In all, about a dozen states are considering sports gambling bills right now. But lawmakers and gambling analysts say only two or three of those states are likely to approve sports betting this legislative session, in part because of disappointing experiences in states where it was recently made legal like Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Haldane is a full-on supporter of casino sports betting becoming legal in Louisiana. McKay is more measured, and expresses a great deal of reticence over the wisdom of touting things like sports gambling, legalizing recreational marijuana and other measures as great untapped revenue streams for the state. Either sports betting is a liberty issue and ought to be legal as a matter of keeping government in its place or oughtn’t be legal because of the moral implications of sanctioning sinful or unproductive behavior – but legalizing something because of a hoped-for windfall that will pay for more government largesse is a time-honored pattern of policy failure in Louisiana which must be broken.

The state government has a $34 billion budget. It doesn’t need any more money. When do we stop trying to feed this monster?

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