|The casino industry is still standing by a favourable study on legalized gambling by Arthur Andersen, the accounting company that has been accused of shredding documents relating to Enron Corporation.|
According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week, Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), said that Andersen’s upbeat assessment of casinos’ economic contribution should not be discounted because of the Enron controversy. Andersen is accused of illicit accounting procedures, which allegedly helped to disguise Enron’s debts and losses. Fahrenkopf said that the allegations would not deter him from using Andersen’s services in future.
“Our opponents have been known to take shots at us without substance in the past”, Fahrenkopf said. “When the light of day shines, we always tend to come out on the proper side. If anyone wants to challenge the accuracy of this report, show us where it is inaccurate.”
The Reverend Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition against Legalized Gambling, said there are two reasons why the Andersen study is flawed: One, Andersen is a member of the AGA, giving the report a partisan view of the industry. Two, the study does not include a cost-benefit analysis, as it does not examine the social costs of gambling.
'I'm glad to hear Frank defend (the study), because it's not a smoking gun for us. It's live ammunition,' Grey said.
The Andersen study concluded that the casino industry recorded total revenues in 1995 of almost $25 billion, employing 300,000 people and paying $7.3 billion in wages for an average national wage of about $26,000.
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which conducted a two-year study of legalized gambling's economic and social impact, cited the Andersen study in its final report in June 1999. The commission claimed that the Andersen study provided proof of gambling's contribution to the economy.
Research conducted for the commission by the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago showed 'unemployment rates, welfare outlays and unemployment insurance decline by about one-seventh' in communities close to newly opened casinos.