Casino gambling and bankruptcy in new United States casino jurisdictions

Abstract

Using quarterly data on personal consumer bankruptcy for 1989:Q4 through 1998:Q1, this study examines the impact that the introduction of casino gambling has on per capita personal bankruptcy filings. Eight jurisdictions that have recently adopted gambling are compared with a set of matching control jurisdictions, communities without casinos that are economically and demographically similar to the eight communities. The results reveal that casino gambling is associated with an increase in personal bankruptcy in seven of the eight communities. In five of the seven the increase is statistically significant. However, an increase is not universal and in one community, Harrison County, Mississippi (Biloxi), bankruptcy per capita significantly decreased. It is speculated that this decrease is due to the features of both the community and the casino industry in Biloxi. Finally, the most significant changes in bankruptcy occur among Chapter 13, as opposed to Chapter 7, filings. This suggests that a growing portion of insolvents are creating repayment plans for their debts. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.

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