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Thoughts on legalized gambling

Editor: In weighing proposals to legalize gambling (August/September 1991), we need to keep in mind ethical and religious considerations. People with high moral and religious standards who object to state lotteries and legalized gambling rightly insist that gambling is a pernicious moral and social cancer that offers the false hope of millions of dollars; the problem is that while there may be one, two or three winners, there are millions of losers. While millions of people throughout the nation are dying mentally, physically and spiritually from drugs, crime, poverty, lack of education, unemployment. hunger and lack of quality medical care, millions of other people in the United States are playing irresponsible games for money and pleasure and becoming addicted to a deadly vice: gambling.

According to University of Nebraska scholars Douglas Abbott and Sheran Cramer, we must consider the social and moral costs and consequences of legalized gambling. For example:

"Contrary to popular belief, legalized gambling does not reduce illegal wagering. Legalization creates conditions that foster expanded illegal gambling activities.

"Gambling sends the wrong social message: It erodes the work ethic and glamorizes the notion that rewards are unrelated to work. Gambling's subtle signal is selfishness: It takes from others without giving something of value in return.

"Gambling becomes an addiction for a small percentage of players. Government, by its sponsorship and promotion of gambling, knowingly contributes to the destruction of individuals and their families. In addition, nearly half of all pathological gamblers turn to crime to support their addiction.

"As our youth continue to struggle with drug use and sex, they will be increasingly exposed to yet another potentially destructive behavior: gambling."

Haven Bradford Gow
Contributing Editor
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Readers: Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words); we reserve the right to excerpt them so as many as space allows can be published. Send your letter to:

Caroline Gherardini, Editor
Illinois Issues
Sangamon State University
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9243

November 1991/Illinois lssues/9

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