To Love and Hate the Lucky Horseshoe Casino

The newly opened Horseshoe Casino in Maryland (map it) had 50,000 players move through its doors this past Labor Day weekend. The casino expects to record more than 5,000,000 visits over the coming calendar year, which what looks like potential for steady growth. Many times the media coverage of news revolving around gambling is negative, adding to the perception of what problems casinos bring to the region and the local economy.

A bit north in Massachusetts, the new MGM casino (same owners) were met with the same excitement and record attendance. Nevertheless, Senator Elizabeth Warren stated she will vote favoring a repeal of the State’s casino acceptance regulation, (article link) even though a recent poll indicates that about 60 percent of the state favors keeping casinos alive and well. It is not surprising that a politician at any level is out of touch with their constituency.

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Want more proof? To put the Horseshoe Casino numbers in perspective, the 5 million projected visits is greater than the populations of the following states:

Alabama*
South Carolina
Kentucky
Louisiana*
Oregon*
Oklahoma*
Connecticut*
Mississippi*
Iowa*
Arkansas*
Utah
Kansas*
Nevada
New Mexico*
Nebraska
West Virginia*
Idaho*
Hawaii
Maine*
New Hampshire
Rhode Island*
Montana
Delaware*
North Dakota
South Dakota*
Alaska*
Vermont
Wyoming*

…31 states and territories that have populations less than the expected number of visits to a single casino in the state of Maryland. Of the 31 names on the list, 17 have casinos in their own states (marked with an asterisk*). This shows there is a lot of interest in having casinos available to the general public whether they are located on Indian reservations or in states that have licensed them.

It is puzzling then why so much of the mainstream media chooses to run stories that are so negative about casinos when, like Senator Warren, the reality of the majority of Americans is significantly different than the portrayal of news outlets and politicians. The argument that the media and politicians are do-gooders whose main concern in protecting the public interest fails to carry much weight in changing this dynamic. There must be an ulterior motive, though that is not the point of this article. Maybe it is just they do not want us having any fun – or profit they cannot tax. Maybe they have ulterior religiously driven motives.

Casinos offer a place for adults to play away from the chaos known as raising children. The only noise heard is that of machines making the familiar clicking sound or, better yet, the screams of someone who has just won a big jackpot. One missing noise comes from those enthusiastic crap table players who do not need liquor to be loud. Laughter and conversation do not qualify as noise, yet is something that is heard often around the slot machines and tables, as well as in huddled groups deciding what to do next.

Stuff We Know That They Don’t?

From a money perspective, casinos are not a sure thing, that would be the opposite of gambling, but they are a place where you can “earn” more money in one might than you can with the same amount of money sitting in a bank account earning “interest.” And you do not have to win a jackpot for that to be possible. If you decide to go to a casino only one night out of the year and bring $100 with you to play with, all you have to do is win $10 and you crush the amount of interest a bank will pay you for all of the 365 nights your money is being used by the bank to profit itself. That difference is the $10 won at the casino that is 10 percent of the $100, versus the $1 you would make at the current bank savings account rate of 1 percent. One night, and then you can take your $110 and put in safely back in the bank.

Now any person with common sense knows that the long term probability of winning every time you go to a casino is almost zero, unless you only play three or four times a year and get on a winning streak. But for the rest of us who will lose from time to time there are a few tax rules that favor the player and make both winning and losing reasons to roll the dice. In most casinos, winnings that are under $1200 do not need to be reported as taxable income. That is the federally mandated maximum. The interest on a bank account is required to be reported as income by federal law. Also, gambling losses can be deducted from gambling winnings, so if you keep careful records or let the casino do that by registering for a players card, money from a big jackpot can avoid taxation.

Being a regular casino visitor is not something for everyone. People have their own reasons not to spend time at a casino, and no special effort should be made to get them to become one of us. Yet the same reasoning applies to the media, politicians, and anti-casino groups. The Horseshoe Casino in Maryland proves that more than a few people enjoy gambling in the beautiful city of Baltimore. Stop trying to convince the world that casinos are places where people throw good money after bad, because that is simply not the case.

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