Oppose Expansion of Legalized Gambling

Published on November 17th, 2011

Summary

In recent years, New York State has dramatically increased access to legalized gambling in an effort to raise revenue. Now state officials are seriously considering beginning the process of amending the state’s Constitution to explicitly permit casinos in every corner of the state.

Conference Position

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes amending the state Constitution to allow for multiple new casinos throughout the state. While proponents point to economic benefits, the state must also consider the consequences, namely the potential for destroyed lives, increased crime and other social ills.

Rationale

The Catholic Church teaches that gambling is a morally neutral act and that games of chance “are not in themselves contrary to justice” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413). However, the Catechism also warns that “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” and becomes morally unacceptable when it deprives an individual of what is necessary to provide for his/her needs and those of others.

When gambling as a revenue stream becomes overly prevalent in a society, the risks associated with problem gambling multiply. With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling.

A 2009 study commissioned by the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue on the economic and social impact of Indian casinos in the state, found that while the casinos did boost employment and revenues, they also resulted in serious numerous negative consequences in the areas near the casinos and for individuals. These included a 400 percent increase in embezzlement arrests, a doubling of DWI arrests, and an increase in substandard and illegal housing for undocumented workers.  Of the problem gamblers studied in the report, 62 percent gambled until their last dollar was gone. Personal bankruptcies in areas where the state’s two Indian casinos are located were more than 10 percent higher than the national norm in seven of the 10 years after the casinos were built.

When looking at potential sources for new revenue, it is the responsibility of government to consider the consequences.  Continued expansion of gambling will be devastating to individuals and families.

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