EDITORIAL: Another casino?
Has the buckle of the Bible belt become the Mecca of gambling? Unless something changes soon, Oklahoma is on the fast track to becoming the gambling capital of the Untied States. In a state where high moral standards once served as model for the rest of the nation, Oklahoma is on the fast track to becoming the nation’s largest gambling pit.
Where gambling increases, families and communities suffer. Study after study and media reports validate the ill effects associated with gambling. Suicide, divorce, crime, embezzlement and bankruptcy increase as the level of gambling rises in a community.
Money set aside for the necessities of life find their way into the pockets of gambling enterprises. Gambling has become big business in Oklahoma. While a few lucky winners walk away with temporary success, it is the gambling industry that laughs all the way to the bank as gamblers end up on the short end of the transaction time and time again. By its very nature, the gambling industry makes its profits by stacking the odds against those upon which it preys, especially the poor.
Gambling is not harmless entertainment. Studies indicate that gambling robs milk money, rent and the savings accounts of those who can afford it the least. Not one reputable financial adviser has ever recommended that hard working citizens invest a dime of their paycheck in gambling.
Gambling addiction and gambling related problems are on the rise in Oklahoma. Is there any wonder why more state funds are needed to provide counseling and welfare benefits to citizens with gambling related struggles?
In addition to the state funding shortfalls, local churches are seeing a rise in the number of families suffering from gambling debt. Churches report that bereavement ministries are on the rise and funds to assist families who have lost it all as a result of gambling are on the rise. Many have families fallen on hard times as they have risked it all at the local casino.
Schools suffer as well as money promised from the lottery and casinos have not met expectations. Funds promised for teacher benefits have not arrived, and many teachers are now being laid off in order for schools to survive.
Social problems related to gambling are depleting financial resources of charitable organizations and state funded programs as needs for services continue to rise and funds for assistance are drained.
Many of the burdens associated with the ill effects caused by gambling have been placed on local churches to resolve. Numerous traditional social services provided by churches have had to be redirected to assist families who have been hurt by gambling. Not to mention the loss of charitable contributions that the church would have otherwise received.
For these and other reasons, it is hard to understand why any Oklahoma community would benefit from yet another gambling casino. One of the primary missions of Oklahoma Southern Baptist churches is to do all we can to strengthen families in our communities.
Based on solid biblical principles and our concern for families, our churches and their members must adamantly stand opposed to any further expansion of gambling in our state.
Excellent resources on the topic of gambling are available at http://erlc.com/topics/C50.