Wager on Work

"It's about jobs."

This phrase will be the "Remember the Alamo" of the 2009 campaign season.

Backers of Ohio's Issue 3, a statewide referendum to construct four casinos across the state, have contextualized their issue in light of our county's economic downturn. This is calculated position because Ohioians have repeatedly defeated legalized gambling over the years and supporters needed a new angle. If voters could be convinced that Issue 3 could pull us out of the recession, the could finally be victorious.

It's the old bait and switch, and it seems like this bet is paying off.

Supporters for casinos tout an economic study which claimed that 34,000 new jobs would be created if the issue is passed. This statistic, created by the University of Cincinnati's Economics Center for Education and Research, ought to be rather persuasive. But when you realize that this study was commissioned by The Ohio Jobs & Growth Committee, a PAC in favor of Issue 3, you should resist trusting this figure. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in September, the study did not account for the potential job losses that could accompany casino gambling throughout the state; for example, casinos would likely mean the end of the horse industry in this state, which employs over 12,000 people.

There's another aspect that the study didn't take into account. You see, the creation of casinos in Ohio will mean an increase in gambling by our state's residents; this would likely mean them gambling away their discretionary income. While we'd like to believe that this money was formerly being directed towards savings, it was probably being spent in stores throughout the state. These stores employ people, but if funds are diverted from these establishments to blackjack tables and slot machines, people will lose their jobs.

In short, jobs are not being created, but merely being transitioned. Voting for Issue 3 and job creation have nothing in common. In actuality, Issue 3 is a battle over monopolies. The opposing parties both want control over gambling in the state— a position that would yield billions of dollars. Why do you think they're spending so much money campaigning?

Issue 3 is about creating one very lucrative job.