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Gambling in the Recession

OPB | Feb. 10, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:48 p.m.

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Gambling has been called a “recession-proof” industry, but that notion doesn’t seem to hold true for the current economic downturn. Though the Oregon Lottery sold out of tickets to their new raffle game, weekly video poker revenue is down 20 percent from this time last year. It’s hard to tell how much the loss in revenue has to do with the state’s new smoking ban and how much is a result of economic forces. For example, casinos on Native American reservations are exempt from the smoking ban, but have still seen a decrease in visits in Oregon and elsewhere this year.

The drop in gambling revenue affects plenty of people who have never scratched a lottery ticket or tried their luck at the slot machines. A chunk of Oregon’s state budget comes from lottery revenues and goes to schools, parks and other programs. Indian casinos give a percentage of their earnings to local charities.

Do you play the lottery or visit casinos in Oregon? Have you changed how often you play or how much you put down? Do you have video poker machines in your business? Have you seen your customers’ behavior change lately? Is your job affected by lottery or casino money? How are you planning to make up for the lost funds?

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