Gambling in India seems to have a negative connotation. The very mention of the word conjures up images of people losing their life’s earnings (and even their wife… courtesy The Mahabharata). Gambling is perceived as an addiction that could lead to misery. Is that what gambling is all about? The truth is that millions of people across the world visit casinos every year. The reason is entertainment. They are neither addicted to gambling nor do they bet their last penny in the casinos. They enjoy their time, feel great to be in a luxurious ambience and never become so deeply engrossed that they cannot decide when to stop.
Casino Industry: Contribution to the Economy
The casino industry has made significant contributions to the growth and development of economies.
Revenue generation: According to a report published by the American Gaming Association (AGA) in early 2012, the commercial casino industry contributed around $145 billion to the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) in 2010. Coming closer to home, the casinos in Macau generated total revenues of about $33.5 billion in 2011, according to the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
Fillip to the Tourism Industry: Did you know that Las Vegas attracts 40 million tourists every year! Even Macau attracts more than 20 million tourists annually. These tourists may be attracted by the magnificent casinos, but their visits boost the economy of the region. This is particularly beneficial if the casinos are able to attract tourists from across the globe, since the nation earns valuable foreign exchange. The Casino Hotels market in the US generated $52 billion in 2011, according to a report by IBISWorld. Tourists spend on flights, hotel stay, shopping, entertainment, visiting other attractions of the region and other such activities that make a complete holiday experience. This propels the tourism industry, which in turn is a fillip to the economy.
Employment: Casinos generate attractive job opportunities… from dealers, slot technicians, security and surveillance personnel to managers in the entertainment, planning, accounting, hotels and marketing departments. The US casino industry directly employed about 3,50,000 people in 2010, according to the AGA report, which shockingly exceeded the number of direct employees in the software and automobile industry. Most are recruited from the local area, thereby boosting the employment, wages and standard of living of the region. Las Vegas employs over 60% of the city population in this sector.
Cure for Depression: Surprised? There are a number of studies that have highlighted the health benefits of casino gaming. These studies claim that gambling can reduce depression and stress. Charity Benefits: Gambling also boasts of charity benefits. Many casinos throughout the world regularly raise money for charity. A prime example of this is the UK. Casinos here voluntarily donate a whopping £5 million per year to advocate responsible gambling.
Tax Benefits: Governments collect significant amounts of tax from casinos and invest it into the betterment of the nation. In the United Kingdom, the tax revenue from the casino industry rose to £2 billion in 2010-2011.
Therefore, the advantages of flourishing casinos are hard to ignore.
Why Not India?
If so many countries are benefiting from casinos, then why do we hesitate to legalize it? Is the Indian population, which is smart enough to choose its leaders, is too dumb to know where to draw the line when gambling? Are we mature enough to benefit from this lucrative industry? Can we make it a boon for the Indian economy , just like other countries have. Even India’s neighbours, like Nepal and Sri Lanka, have legalized gaming and casinos.
Will legalizing gambling lead to more crimes? Obviously, if it is legalized, it has to be regulated. Just like the UK, which has a separate Gaming Commission that is entrusted with the task of keeping a track of this lucrative industry. Why can’t we take gambling out of the ‘illegal books’ and make it a legal and regulated taxpaying business?