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Casino Debate

Mike Dobbs says moral arguments against government-run gambling have always confused him (editorial Aug. 4-10). Well, I don't have any trouble understanding them. Further, expanding the venue to casinos will only make matters worse. Syndicated columnist Dave Brooks wrote a July column on how we Americans have lost our moral compass. Government-run gambling was listed as one of the examples. Proponents say ignore the moral questions because gambling will fund jobs, wonderful programs and services. They say 60 percent of us can gamble safely, so simply overlook the money problems the 40 percent of problem gamblers will cause their families, their employers (time off from work to gamble, embezzlement) and taxpayers (programs to break their addiction). Governor Patrick's statement that his mother gambles safely so it's OK shows a naivete beyond belief. Proponents also tend to inflate the financial benefits. Aren't their arguments for casinos the same ones used to get us to approve the state lottery? Did the lottery solve our problems? Connecticut gets millions from casino gambling yet their state budget isn't in any better shape than ours. Why not? In addition, do we want to attract those shady people who tend to gravitate to profiting from the casino business through questionable or even criminal means? I find myself agreeing with the three prong approach: (1) decide on state priorities, i.e. funding repair of infrastructure, a reasonable amount to education, helping people who can't work through no fault of their own; (2) eliminating pet projects that, while worthwhile, we cannot afford to fund at this time; (3) tax ourselves for the approved programs' costs. Eileen Pratt Springfield