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Casinos, a Big Gamble

Gambling's risks can outweigh the benefits.

Reports of the in Georgia continues to make news. Elected officials are trying to find and replace reserve funds that have been tapped during this time of economic struggle.

Citizens have recoiled at higher property taxes and question the extension of SPLOST, but now .

House Resolution 186 is similar to legislation (HR 1177) Geisinger introduced in the 2009-2010 legislative term. This proposed constitutional amendment would enable voters across the state to decide whether or not to allow horse racing and pari-mutuel gambling in their local communities. (Full disclosure causes me to reveal I am a member of a national coalition called Stop Predatory Gambling.)

On the heels of Rep. Geisinger's announcement, Rep. Ron Stephen (R-Savannah) said he plans to introduce a bill calling for a constitutional amendment that will open doors to casinos in parts of our state already drawing tourists. According to Walter Jones and Morris News Service, as referenced by Jim Galloway in his column "Political Insider," these Special Entertainment Zones could be called “Gambling Zones.” The kicker is that places like Jekyll Island, Savannah’s Hutchinson Island and Lake Lanier would be prime candidates for the first casinos in Georgia, according to Rep. Stephens.

The experience we have had with the lottery should tell us that the gambling supporters always over-promise and under-deliver when it is time to pay up. Evidence from across the nation documents the risk is much too big to gamble the future of the next generation away.

The first year after casinos opened in Mississippi, suicides doubled. Last summer in Alabama, indictments were issued against several elected officials because of the corruption tied to the gambling interest in the state. In Alabama, one casino owner sued another casino operation because the promised money that was to be given to charity had not been forthcoming.  One investigative reporter, who is not an activist against gambling, has asked questions in Pennsylvania that have gone unanswered about the cost to the taxpayers versus the actual benefit to be realized from casinos.

With the possibility of a casino so close to Dacula at Lake Lanier, what possible tax advantage would the citizens of Dacula enjoy? There are studies that indicate for every dollar taken into the treasury, it takes three to provide additional law enforcement and to provide for social and familial needs caused by gambling addictions.

From where I stand, this so-called rainbow leading to a pot of gold is really just a highway to bankruptcy.

Fred February 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM
Excellent article. All gambling is predatory and we never think of the children whose parents gamble away the food money and the rent money. No one wins except organized crime
Cathy McDonald February 22, 2011 at 12:33 PM
We have gamblers anonymous programs in Illinois and Missouri. How sad that it is that big of a problem. It is not just a poverty problem either. I have watched middle class people hide in their basement as gambling collectors come from the casinos, and some lose their homes. It is certainly an issue that needs to be stopped before it goes any further.
Maria Holmes February 22, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Your columns continue to enlighten me on activities going on in state gov't that I would normally not pay much attention to in our local paper (Columbus). I like the way you explain house bills and policies etc. in your articles. From where I stand, you are a wonderful asset to the state, local community and newspaper. God bless you.
Ray Newman February 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM
You are correct there are no real winners when we allow the state to become a predatory
Ray Newman February 22, 2011 at 10:07 PM
You have given us a picture that some would not want us to see, when you say you have seen people hide in their basement when the gambling collectors come by their homes, to collect on their gambling debts.
Ray Newman February 22, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Thanks for reading the column. Writing it gives me an opportunity to share my opinions on what I see taking place in our culture. There is never a dull moment when watching the culture.
Miriam February 23, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Once a person is aware of the poisonous effects of gambling, it's hard to ignore them unless it's be choice. Thank you for increasing awareness.
Ray Newman February 24, 2011 at 12:29 PM
There is always the fact that the gambling supporters over promise and under deliver when it comes to letting us know the full picture of the long term damage that having casinos in a state can bring. Thanks for commenting on the column
Becky Kimbrel February 25, 2011 at 03:37 AM
I didn't even know casinos were being considered in Georgia! So much for our FAMILY oriented vacation spots! It's bad enough that legislators want to bring this type of gambling to our state, but have they considered the damage it will cause in families? When children grow up in a society that promotes gambling, imagine what they will be like when they become adults. Gambling is not good for our generation nor the ones of the future.
Ray Newman February 25, 2011 at 04:07 AM
I agree on the harm that gambling causes to families Becky, thank you for your comments. There has been one bill introduced already, (HR186) and there is another one planned for late in this session we have been told.

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