Contra Costa County Study Assesses Public Health Effects of Casinos
Expanding an existing casino in San Pablo will increase utilization of hospital emergency departments, according to authors of a study on casinos commissioned by Contra Costa County, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The study -- based in part on previous research, data from fire and emergency agencies in other states and interviews with Contra Costa County Health Services Department personnel -- found that casinos can contribute to increased rates of mental illness, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, illicit drug use and alcohol abuse.
Casino San Pablo, which is owned by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, currently operates as a cardroom but plans to install as many as 500 electronic bingo machines. The casino is adjacent to Doctors Medical Center San Pablo, which operates the only full-service emergency department in West Contra Costa County.
Study authors estimate that the expanded Casino San Pablo would account for 11 ED visits daily and that traffic related to the casino would cause one injury or fatal accident daily on average (Lochner, San Jose Mercury News, 7/30).