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Booms, Busts, and Gambling: Can Gaming Revenues Reduce Budget Volatility?


  • Brad R. Humphreys

    () (Department of Economics, University of Alberta)

  • Victor Matheson

    () (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)


Over the past 20 years, state and provincial governments in North America have expanded legal gambling opportunities to consumers. One of the primary policy goals of this expansion of gambling opportunities has been to increase government revenues. Gambling is an attractive source of new government revenues because consumers are relatively insensitive to the implicit “tax” rate imposed on gambling activities and gambling is a voluntary activity; only those who chose to gamble are subject to this implicit tax. In this paper, we document the contribution that gambling revenues make to state and provincial tax receipts, and the extent to which variation in gambling revenues contributes to the volatility of tax revenues over time. We adopt an approach from the finance literature. In finance, the relationship of the return to an individual stock to total return in a portfolio, or total return the entire stock market, is often summarized by a “Beta” which can be estimated from actual returns on portfolios and individual stocks. We investigate the contribution of gambling revenue, and revenue from other sources, to variation in total government revenues, by estimating a beta for various government revenue sources in states and provinces in North America over the period 1989-2009. The estimated betas for gambling revenue in many provinces and states are negative, indicating that variation in gaming revenue has negative correlation with variation in own source revenues, reducing the variation in total state and provincial revenue over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad R. Humphreys & Victor Matheson, 2010. "Booms, Busts, and Gambling: Can Gaming Revenues Reduce Budget Volatility?," Working Papers 1003, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Baade & Victor Matheson, 2000. "Bidding for the Olympics: Fools Gold?," IASE Conference Papers 0007, International Association of Sports Economists.
    2. Robert A. BAADE & Robert W. BAUMANN & Victor A. MATHESON, 2010. "Slippery Slope ? Assessing The Economic Impact Of The 2002 Winter Olympic Games In Salt Lake City, Utah," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 31, pages 81-92.
    3. Robert Baade & Victor Matheson, 2004. "The Quest for the Cup: Assessing the Economic Impact of the World Cup," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 343-354.
    4. Hagn, Florian & Maennig, Wolfgang, 2008. "Employment effects of the Football World Cup 1974 in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 1062-1075, October.
    5. Florian Hagn & Wolfgang Maennig, 2009. "Large sport events and unemployment: the case of the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(25), pages 3295-3302.
    6. Coates, Dennis & Humphreys, Brad R., 2003. "The effect of professional sports on earnings and employment in the services and retail sectors in US cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 175-198, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kent Grote & Victor Matheson, 2013. "Should Gambling Markets be Privatized? An Examination of State Lotteries in the United States," Working Papers 1303, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    2. Humphreys, Brad & Perez, Levi, 2011. "Lottery Participants and Revenues: An International Survey of Economic Research on Lotteries," Working Papers 2011-17, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    3. Kent Grote & Victor Matheson, 2011. "The Economics of Lotteries: A Survey of the Literature," Working Papers 1109, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    gambling; lottery; public finance;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • H27 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other Sources of Revenue
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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