Blasting "misinformation" disseminated by critics of legalized gambling, a casino industry spokesman called Tuesday for debate and study that's based on accurate and complete information.
Spokesman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. said one erroneous story making the rounds was about Asian gangs showing up in Central City, Colo., after casino gambling began there. Officials in Maryland and Florida both repeated that claim, originally published in an Illinois State Police report in 1992.But, Fahrenkopf said, the Central City police department said recently that it has no idea where Illinois' information came from and that Central City has never had a problem with Asian gangs.
Fahrenkopf, former national chairman of the Republican Party, is president of the American Gaming Association. That's a trade group organized a year ago by the casino industry. Fahrenkopf spoke here Tuesday at the meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Using Las Vegas as an example, he challenged the often-repeated assertion that gambling breeds crime.
"If there was a correlation between crime and gaming you would need armored vehicles to enter and leave the city," Fahrenkopf said. But the FBI report for 1995, he said, shows that Las Vegas was safer than nearly every American tourist venue, including Orlando, Fla., and New Orleans.
"We do not pretend to be perfect," he said, "nor do we argue that gaming is the right choice for every state and every community."
He urged the state officials to carefully examine all the information they read and hear about the gambling industry.
The subject of studying the effects of gambling is hot now because of pending legislation that would create a national commission to do just that. Fahrenkopf's group has fought the effort to endow the commission with subpoena power, but he said the association supports a study.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)