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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2007 Mar-Apr;13(2):214-22.

Evaluating the ecological association of casino industry economic development on community health status: a natural experiment in the Mississippi delta region.

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Mississippi Department of Health, Jackson, MS 39215, USA.


Objectives of this study were to examine for associations of casino industry economic development on improving community health status and funding for public health services in two counties in the Mississippi Delta Region of the United States. An ecological approach was used to evaluate whether two counties with casino gaming had improved health status and public health funding in comparison with two noncasino counties in the same region with similar social, racial, and ethic backgrounds. Variables readily available from state health department records were used to develop a logic model for guiding analytical work. A linear regression model was built using a stepwise approach and hierarchical regression principles with many dependent variables and a set of fixed and nonfixed independent variables. County-level data for 23 variables over an 11-year period were used. Overall, this study found a lack of association between the presence of a casino and desirable health outcomes or funding for public health services. Changes in the environment were made to promote health by utilizing gaming revenues to build state-of-the-art community health and wellness centers and sports facilities. However, significant increases in funding for local public health services were not found in either of the counties with casinos. These findings are relevant for policy makers when debating economic development strategies. Analysis similar to this should be combined with other routine public health assessments after implementation of development strategies to increase knowledge of health outcome trends and shifts in socioeconomic position that may be expected to accrue from economic development projects.

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