Presence of tribal casinos linked to decreased childhood obesity rates

TAGs: american medical association, California, cayuga nation, New York, Oneida Tribe, tribal casinos

california-tribal-casino-obesity-ratesThis week saw a US federal court approve a deal that will allow New York’s brick-and-mortar casino expansion to proceed as planned. The ruling by US District Judge Lawrence Kahn approves the deal New York reached last May with the Oneida Nation that preserved the tribe’s casino exclusivity rights within a 10-county area in Central New York, for which the tribe will pay the state around $50m annually. In December, the Oneidas agreed to waive their exclusivity on land claimed by the Cayuga Nation so that the tribe could someday build their own casino in Cayuga County.

Whenever the Cayuga Nation gets around to building its own casino, the tribe will reap the benefits of a dependable revenue stream, albeit in an increasingly crowded casino marketplace. What other benefits can the Cayuga expect? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), they might want to start punching extra holes in their kids’ belts. A study published this week in the JAMA found that the number of slot machines in California casinos was linked with decreased childhood obesity in the tribes operating those casinos.

The study’s authors looked at 117 California school districts that included tribal territories. There were casinos already operational in 24 of these districts, while another 57 either opened or expanded a casino and 36 districts had no casino at all. Comparing body-mass index (BMI) records for nearly 23k children over an 11-year period and cross-referencing with pre- and post-casino construction periods, the research showed a 0.19% reduction in obesity risk for every slot machine added per child. The overall obesity rate for children in the study was 48%, a figure that dropped by 5% for communities with slots operations.

While stressing that more study was needed, researchers suggested that the increased tribal income allowed the kids to enjoy an improved standard of living, including better food and increased access to recreational facilities.


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