5 Reasons Casinos Make Sense for South Carolina
Author of the publication: Rhys Williams
This week we want to talk about an issue that's on the minds of a lot of people at the state house and around South Carolina. And that's the issue of casino gaming. Winthrop University recently conducted a poll that showed almost 70 percent of South Carolinians support the idea of legalizing casinos in order to pay for road repairs. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford has championed this issue for several years. He has a bill in the House right now to let voters decide whether or not to legalize gaming in South Carolina to pay for roads. His bill is gaining bipartisan traction at the state house and for good reasons.
Here are five reasons casinos make sense for South Carolina Number one - We need the money! If anybody tells you we can fix our dilapidated roads in South Carolina with existing money, they're lying to you. We haven't raised the gas tax, our primary source of road repairs since 1987 and our roads are literally falling apart. Now we are not opposed to raising the gas tax, in fact, we think we should have done it a long time ago, but because we took so long to raise the gas tax, that source of revenue is as unreliable as its ever been. As cars become more fuel efficient, the less we rely on traditional gasoline. And that results in less gas tax revenue. In just a few short years, most cars will be hybrid, electric, or half-electric and gas tax revenue will be virtually obsolete. THEN how will we pay to fix our roads? We need a new, long-term, and reliable revenue stream to keep us safe on the roadways. And casinos can be just that. In 2014, the state of Mississippi brought in over $900 million in tax revenue from casinos.
South Carolina could easily bring in as much or more. Now coincidentally, the South Carolina Department of Transportation projects we need about a billion dollars a year to fix our roads. Now let's see, casinos could bring in a billion dollars a year. We NEED a billion dollars a year...makes sense to me.
Number two - Casinos equal jobs. And lots of them. Legalizing casinos in South Carolina would result in tens of thousands of new jobs for our state. And more importantly, they would bring jobs to parts of the state that have been economically forgotten. Areas in the Pee Dee and down I-95, places like Jasper and Hampton Counties, and more. And it wouldn't just create casino jobs. It would create new job opportunities in every sector - in hospitality, food and beverage, the financial industry, construction - you name it.
Critics say with casinos comes crime. But you know what really causes crime? Lack of economic opportunity. Casinos would bring that opportunity and cut down on crime. Number three - More tax revenue to the state means fewer reasons to raise taxes. And we think that's something we can all get behind. Number four - With a new sustainable revenue stream, state leaders are less likely to slash funding for education, healthcare, and local governments during tough budget years. Number five - it gets rid of the government monopoly on gambling in South Carolina. Oh, you didn't know we already have gambling in South Carolina? We do. It's called the South Carolina Education Lottery. And the government runs it.
Legalizing casinos to fix our roads is a free market solution to a problem only the government can fix. There are so many good reasons why we should legalize casinos in South Carolina. It's time state leaders opened their eyes - and their minds - to an industry that could mean tens of thousands of new jobs, billions in new revenue, and you wouldn't have to go to Cherokee to play Blackjack. Those are the five reasons casinos make sense for South Carolina. Have a great week.