The state of Arkansas voted in November of 2008 to legalize the sale of lottery tickets in the name of scholarship money for higher education. Arkansas should legalize gambling in casinos as well because of the increase in tax revenues both locally and state wide, as well as other benefits the decision would carry. According to statistics provided by Americangaming.org, the two commercial casinos in our neighboring state of Oklahoma are taxed at rates of up to 30 percent on gaming revenues, and at a 9 percent rate on horse racing revenues. This increase in tax revenue could mean many great things for the state of Arkansas and its communities.

Taking another look at Oklahoma, we will find that their two commercial casinos’ taxes go toward education. In the last year alone they contributed over 20 million dollars to higher learning in Oklahoma. The money went to scholarship funds, to support research, and to build public infrastructure. The fact that Arkansas is missing out on so much money that could do incredible things for the public universities in the state is surprising to say the least. The increase in the other revenues brought to the town could combat many of the common problems brought up by the opposition.

"With a casino comes trouble" is a common complaint, but even if said statement is true, it can be combatted with the revenues that the casino brings. Again referring to Oklahoma, their two commercial casinos have a combined staff of 585 people with taxable wages of over 23 million dollars. These extra jobs will decrease the unemployment rate, which directly correlates with a lower crime rate. The extra $1.5 million in tax revenue can be used to hire more police, which can also lead to a lower crime rate. The argument could be made that casinos make cities safer.

The casinos would also generate a lot of tourism and traffic to the city, and all of the extra money going around also means increases in different types of tax revenue for the city. This could pay for a lot of things, from building roads or a public library, to hiring better high school teachers. One thing it could also mean, is tax cuts. With the increase in the tax revenues, a government could lower taxes and operate on the same budget, which would draw industry and create business opportunities for the small businesses throughout the city, which is key for economic growth.

In all, the state of Arkansas should seriously consider legalizing gambling and casinos in the state. Look for the town that plays host to a casino to turn into a thriving economy. By allowing casinos to operate, Arkansas could pay for improvements to its higher education and to its public secondary education.

Travis Thompson is a student of Intermediate Microeconomics at the University of Central Arkansas. The column has been vetted by Joe McGarrity, a professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas. Contact him by email at joem@uca.edu.