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August 19, 2010 Print

Don’t Chase Vegas

by Chad Hills

Las Vegas topped Forbes “most stressful cities” list this year, but are other cities and states paying attention?

There are a number of reasons the gambling-dependent economy and lifestyle are unstable and stressful, but  here’s a brief overview.

Why not duplicate the Vegas model?

Las Vegas is Ranked America’s Most Stressful City in the U.S.
Forbes.com found Vegas to be the most stressful city   (lifestyle) in the nation. Irregular work hours in the fast-paced, 24-7 gambling environment remove parents from their families, often resulting in family crises and poor physical health.

Las Vegas has the Highest Unemployment in the Nation at 14.5%
Gambling is in decline, and both Atlantic City  and Las Vegas  have cut thousands of jobs and brought new construction to a halt.

Promises High-Paying Jobs, But Delivers Poverty-Level Wages
The gambling industry promises high-paying jobs in the $30,000 dollar range for casino workers. Yet, statistics by the Department of Labor show that nationally a Black Jack Card dealer makes less than a teenager working as a cashier in a mall (dealer makes $16,040 annually). Averaging all casino salaries together, including top management, income is closer to $20,000 yearly.

Las Vegas Job Quality Ranks Lowest in Nation
Nevada job quality ranks dead last by a long shot.  

Las Vegas, the 4th Most Dangerous City in the U.S.
Forbes – America’s most dangerous cites. Crime and gambling go hand in hand.

Increase in Chronically Homelessness Population
 “Those on the streets, they are the folks with the most disabilities, most mentally ill, most addicted, the ones most struggling with those barriers.” – Nevada regional homeless services coordinator

 The Lesson? Don’t Chase Vegas.

Perhaps former Nevada Governor, Kenny Guinn, summarized it best in his State of the State Address in 2003:

“…My fellow Nevadans, the lesson from the last 20 years is clear; our revenue system is broken because it has relied on regressive and unstable taxes [from gambling].”

Snake oil, anyone?