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Time to oppose gambling expansion

By Pilot editorial
Posted: 4/30/2010

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News that the Massachusetts Senate plans to slow down the push for expanded gambling is welcome, although it may prove a temporary respite as both the senate president and the governor favor some form of expansion. This delay in the process does, however, allow for conscientious citizens to voice their opposition to predatory gaming.

The rush to pass legislation in the House, without public hearings, seemed to be engineered precisely to avoid vocal opposition and increased awareness of the harmful consequences of expanded gambling.

The potential impact of gambling expansion is great. The House bills calls for two resort-style casinos and slot machine parlors at the state’s four racetracks. However, it would also open the door for two Native American tribes to build their own casinos, with the potential for six more if other Native American tribes receive federal recognition.

Claims of increased employment and funding for our cities and towns are greatly exaggerated and ignore the fact that expanded gaming brings with it expanded social problems. In addition to their disproportionate impact on the poor, casinos can also harm local small businesses, as money that traditionally flowed into the local economy is diverted to gambling.

As for new taxes, increased gaming may boost state coffers initially, but it is unclear what the net gain will be after accounting for its impact on the state lottery and funds that will have to be used to pay for the social impact of gambling.

Casino gambling thrives by creating addictive behavior patterns. Compulsive gambling affects a sizable number of casino and slot machine players. It has devastating effects on the gamblers’ finances, their families and society at large that will have to deal with the wreckage caused by bankruptcies, increased domestic violence and crime.

We join with the Massachusetts Catholic Conference in calling on Catholics to contact their legislators to voice their opposition to expanded gambling.

Are we so desperate for tax revenue that we must prey on the poor, promoting addictive behaviors with the potential of ruining so many lives? It may be legal but it is hardly moral.