Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Are ‘casinos’ the 6th ‘C’ in Arizona’s economic development plan?

Image credit: Pamela Powers Hannley

When old timers talk about Arizona’s economy, they often refer to the “5 C’s”– cotton, copper, cattle, citrus, and climate. The “5 C’s” built Arizona, but how relevant are they in today’s world of limited resources?

At least 4 of the 5 C’s come with a high environmental cost, since cotton, copper, cattle, and citrus all use more water than Arizona can afford to use. This practice has led to the destruction of desert rivers and streams. Three of the 5C’s– cotton, copper, and cattle– also have destroyed our state’s vegetation and desert ecosystem.

According to a recent article in the Arizona Daily Star, a 6th C has emerged as an important player (no pun intended) in the state’s economic development– casinos. In fiscal year 2011 (July 2010 – June 2011), casinos took in $1.7 billion. .

Although copper ($5.3 billion) and climate (AKA, tourism, $17.7 billion) have continued to be blockbuster sources of revenue, 2010 revenues from cattle ($637 million), cotton ($206), and citrus ($34) paled in comparison to gambling.

What is missing from this article about revenue is cost. What is the environmental cost of  copper, cattle, cotton, and citrus? What is the cost to the state in tax breaks and incentives to the copper industry or businesses related to tourism? If revenues of these businesses are so high, what are they paying to the state for the privilege of doing business here?

And what is the true cost of gambling? The Star article quotes expert sources who estimate that 75% of casino gamblers are Arizonans. Yes, the tribes made $1.7 billion on gambling, but that means that everyday citizens lost $1.7 billion on gambling.

The old saying is: gambling is a tax on people who are bad at math. Gambling can be highly addictive. Compulsive gamblers can lose everything… houses, jobs, families, lives.

Is this rise in gambling revenues a good sign for our state’s well being? I think not. It only shows the desperation of Arizonans trying to eek out a living however they can in a depressed state with few opportunities for the unemployed and undereducated.

Instead of relying on the 6 C’s, Arizona should move to an economy built on the 6 E’s — environmental sustainability, education, electronics (AKA technology), equity, excellence, and economic opportunity for all.

6 comments on “Are ‘casinos’ the 6th ‘C’ in Arizona’s economic development plan?

  1. John Martin Meek
    December 20, 2011

    That’s a good story about “casinos” being the sixth “C” for Arizona’s fame along with cotton, copper, cattle, citrus and climate. But my fellow funseekers, aren’t we being a bit in denial here?  Years ago when Ted Koppel, now at NBC, was hosting “Nightline”  on ABC from Tucson he called it the marijuana capital of the world. Being realistic, that sixth “”C” should be cocaine but then that wouldn’t look too good on tourism posters would it.


    • Pamela Powers Hannley
      December 20, 2011

      Good point. Arizona has 8 C’s when you add cocaine and cannabis to the list.


      • Pretty Funny
        December 22, 2011

        And don’t forget Chicanos! We don’t want to offend Three Sombreros!


  2. Loma Linda Pl home owner
    December 21, 2011

    Based on last nights find in home at 9100 Loma Linda Pl, cocaine & cannabis really should be added to list.


  3. eric
    December 21, 2011

    Legalize the last two Cs and tax the heck out of them.  Maybe a lot of that money could go towards education and drug awareness.


    • Pretty Funny
      December 22, 2011

      I’ll buy that for a dollar!


Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on December 20, 2011 by in Arizona, economy, education, environment, equality, sustainability, taxes, Tucson and tagged , , , .
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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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