In a recent article on the Australian Financial Review (ANFR) titled 'Gambling, the New Solution for Public Transport', one author contends that there is an obvious link between the rapid growth of online gambling and the rise in public transport patronage. According to the author, Dr Bridget Cuddy, former Howard government adviser on issues relating to the budget, it was noted that in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, 'commuters found themselves relying more on taxis and other forms of transport, rather than their own.' Dr Cuddy went on to state that gambling establishments were quickly swamped by a huge increase in foot traffic, with people moving from cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to larger centres like Newcastle and Adelaide. As a result, it was common for people who used the public transport to travel back and forth, increasing the strain on public transport systems.
Now the question arises as to why is it that a casino promotes gambling in areas where public transport links are available? Is not the transport infrastructure sufficient for people who want to use public transport to get around? And if there is a need for additional infrastructure, why then do not governments provide this? And if they do not, why is it that a 5 dollar deposit casinos chooses not to build such infrastructure for local commuters? Dr Cuddy suggests that this may be down to the fact that the gambling industry has strong ties to politicians, having donated heavily to both major parties over the years.
Another researcher who spoke to the Australian Financial Review about the connection between gambling and public transport, suggests that the reliance on public transport may be a myth. The Casino operators argue that they have been working with government and state transport providers for years, which helps reduce operation costs and make the operation of the casino more efficient. They also point out that the number of people using buses, trains and subways has continued to rise, with people preferring to travel by rail and tram over driving.
This all sounds like a good case, although it is also worth remembering that casino operators tend to operate in areas where public transport links are available, as well as areas where driving is possible. Clearly then, there is a correlation between public transport usage and patronage of gambling, and the availability of casino gambling facilities in these locations. However, this is no reason why a casino cannot also offer similar gambling facilities in non-public areas. Why should a casino not offer slot machines and poker machines in shopping centres or in other locations where people want to spend their leisure time?
Clearly then, there are benefits in offering gambling opportunities in different venues. What is the disadvantage? As suggested by some experts, there is a question of public perception. For example, wouldn't it be better for a casino to offer slots in its own premises rather than have them located in an area where public transport links would be lacking? Some people argue that people would be less likely to gamble in a casino situated in their local shopping mall, but many of the world's biggest casinos are located in shopping malls and other destinations outside of town.
Despite arguments against the location of a casino in a shopping centre, some gambling operators do feel that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. After all, why would you go to a casino in your local shopping mall if it means missing out on the comforts of home? That said, it may be beneficial for casino business operators to offer services outside their premises. For example, they could offer slot machines in a shopping centre or a cafe if there is space. Ideally, they should provide any such services in places where people will see them and may be tempted to visit, without relying solely on their location.