HorseshoeCasino

The HorseShoe Casino Baltimore will stage its grand opening, Aug. 26, welcoming an estimated 10,000 guests through its doors.

Over time, however, the casino’s patrons will not be distinguished so much by race but by income and education, experts said.

“There is not much data on the racial breakdown of casino-goers,” said gambling expert James KarmelIn terms of general gambling patterns, Whites are more frequent gamblers (92.5 percent), followed by African Americans (87.5 percent) and Hispanics (86.6 percent), according to a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

However, when it comes to the subset of casino gamblers, there are much clearer distinctions based on education and income,
Karmel added.

“Casino-goers tend to be slightly more educated that non-Casino-goers. And, typically, casino gambling is associated with income.
For the vast majority of people, gambling at casinos is a recreational activity; they’re doing it with disposable income, money they can afford to spend,” Karmel, a professor of history at Harford Community College, said.

“You just don’t find a lot of poor people in casinos,” he added. “People at lower income levels can’t afford to lose $50; they need that for food.”

However, poorer Americans—who tend to prefer gambling closer to home—are more likely to spend their income on lottery games, as are African Americans.

“Lottery is more dependent on lower-income people African Americans are somewhat more likely to gamble on the lottery
than Whites,” Karmel said.

Those assertions were borne out in a 2010 study conducted by UMBC researchers.

Published in The Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, the study titled “Who Pays for Maryland Lottery? Evidence from
Point of Sale Data” married lottery terminal locations with Census tract data and examined the results using geographic information system maps to explore how racial and income groups contribute to state lottery revenues.

The findings showed “the voluntary tax collected by the Maryland lottery comes disproportionately from census tracts populated
by African Americans and low-income residents,” specifically those “with less than a high school education, and people age 65 and
older.”

Again, with regards to casino gaming, even as city officials, casino owners and gambling aficionados welcome the new parlor, African Americans are more vulnerable to some of the ills of gambling.

According to the 2011 UMBC study, “Gambling Prevalence in Maryland: A Baseline Analysis,” which was commissioned by Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, African Americans are 12.5 percent at risk of becoming problem gamblers
and have a 4.9 percent rate of pathological gambling.

Comparatively, Whites are less likely to be at risk of developing problem gambling at 8.2 percent, and experience a mere 2 percent of pathological gambling concerns.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO