Press Release


Washington, DC (June 18, 1999) -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors Gaming Task Force met in New Orleans, LA on June 14th during the 67th Annual Conference of Mayors meeting. During its discussions, the task force expressed serous concern with several of the key recommendations of the draft report of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), which was released in its final form today.

The concerns of the Gaming Task Force were reported to the entire body of the Conference during the official Business Session on June 15th by Mayor Jeff Griffin of Reno, NV.

In summarizing the draft report, Mayor Griffin stated: "We are pleased that the NGISC listened to our testimony and the evidence of years of experience and has concluded that casino gaming plays an important and dramatic economic role in our communities.

"The report makes clear the Commission's position on the benefits of casinos when it says, 'Research conducted on behalf of the Commission confirms the testimony of casino workers and government officials that casino gambling creates jobs and reduces levels of unemployment and government assistance in communities that have legalized it.' The report goes even further by recommending to state, local and tribal governments that when considering the legalization of gambling, 'they should recognize that, especially in economically depressed communities, casino gambling has demonstrated the ability to generate economic development through the creation of quality jobs.'

"We appreciate the new information on pathological and underage gambling, and commend the continued efforts of local communities and the gaming industry to find innovative ways to address these important social issues.

"We agree with the Commission when it suggests that any jurisdiction considering legalizing gaming should "pause' and consider the choice carefully. It is an important decision, and casinos may not be right for every community."

However, Mayor Griffin report3ed that the Gaming Task Force expressed the following concerns:

"It is wrong to suggest that communities don't already weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision about the legalization of gaming, as it inferred in the NGISC report. There is simply no evidence based on the years of experience in gaming jurisdictions that federal intervention is needed.

"It is critical that as with other key issues related to economic development, local and state decision making authority remain preeminent, and that the federal government avoid any interference in this process. State and local elected officials are much closer to the interests of their communities, and must retain the authority to implement the ultimate decisions of their constituents.

"That being said, it would be inappropriate for the federal government to involve itself in the issues of state or local campaign contributions, with this issue also best left to local jurisdictions."

The US Conference of Mayors is a non-partisan organization that represents Mayors of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are approximately 1,100 of these cities nations wide.


Katie Cullen

Sharon Spangler