Man threatens casino after wife loses $30k

February 27, 2013 3:51 pm

“My wife is at your casino, get her out of there or I am going to come up there with an AK-47 and [expletive] you and that place up.”

So began a telephone call from a man who said his wife had lost $30,000 at the Delaware Park Casino in Wilmington, Del., the News Journal reports. Brandon K. Buchanan, 28, of Wilmington, Del. said he was “fed up” with his wife’s gambling losses. He threatened to use a gun in order to let his wife know he was serious.

Buchanan was charged with first-degree reckless endangering, possession of a firearm during a felony, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to police. The incident is an extreme example of what can happen to families when gambling addiction takes hold. Studies show that divorce, suicide, crime and bankruptcy increase in the 50-mile area where a casino locates. (See a report by Baylor University economics professor Earl Grinols on the social costs of gambling here.)

Left unsaid is how casinos attract and keep problem gamblers coming back. It’s a safe bet that Delaware Park treated Buchanan’s wife like a VIP. She was likely offered free play coupons to get and keep her coming back to the casino as well as other perks. The goal is to keep gamblers coming back again and again. The industry term is known as “play to extinction.” (See video of problem gamblers here.)

This is the underside of gambling that lawmakers and casino operators don’t mention when boasting about the tax revenue that comes from casinos. But the sad reality is much of the casino tax revenue comes from problem gamblers. One study found that 60 percent of slots revenue at casinos comes from problem gamblers.