By Lorin L. Clemenz
When dealing with those involved in gambling, logic is set aside.
Why is it that enough is never enough? The owners of the riverboat casinos always want to expand so more people can gamble. State legislators want to find more ways of increasing gambling revenues. State Senator Robert Meeks of LaGrange wants the State of Indiana to allow a license granted to a Gary location to be transferred to a northeastern county such as Steubin. There it will draw people from Michigan and Ohio as well as Hoosiers from the Fort Wayne area. This action continues the expansion of legalized gambling in Indiana.
Why is it that so many believe that the finances used for gambling come from deep pockets? Most of us realize we have a certain amount of disposable income. If I choose to spend it for an item not in the budget, then I also must decide from where the money must come. If I gamble and loose a large amount of money, then I might have to put off buying a car or other major purchases. It is a choice that is mine to make. Hoosiers' spending habits have a direct affect on businesses that in turn, if their income drops, will pay fewer taxes to the state. That downturn tightens the finances for state government and what it can or cannot do to serve the public.
Why is it that the laws of truth in advertising do not apply to gambling? Stores that sell lottery tickets often will advertise that last week patrons at the store won $5,406 but do not tell the total amount of tickets sold. I would like to know that amount, too. A professor and some Texas student volunteers compared lottery tickets from the forty-four states that sell them for the information given on the tickets. Indiana ranked fortieth out of the forty-three in giving misleading information on the tickets.
Why is it that the actual social costs of gambling put forth by the State are seldom comparable with figures that academic circles put forth? Many scholars studying the effects of gambling on society say it costs three-to-four dollars in expenses for each dollar the state might derive from gambling resources. When will the State of Indiana implement a study to find the actual social costs of legalized gambling supported by the State? Yes, such a study will cost a significant amount of money and will take time to complete. But the actual figure would be helpful in deciding if gambling resources are worth it or an undue burden upon society.
Why is it that the State of Indiana cannot see and admit to its addiction to gambling revenues? Alcoholics or compulsive gamblers must hit the bottom before they will admit they have a problem and cannot solve their addiction. How far must the State of Indiana go before it realizes there is a problem and help is needed?
Enough is enough! It will take a tremendous effort from all of us to overcome Indiana's addiction to gambling. To begin the process, call, e-mail or write your State Representative, State Senator and Governor Mitch Daniels today. Share your views in opposition to the explanation of legalized gambling in Indiana by the General Assembly and ask for a change of direction from acceptance of gambling revenues. Openly request that their decisions have a foundation that will take us, as a State, far into the future, not locked into decades-long commitments to legalized gambling. We can solve our financial problems as a state without the expansion of gambling. Such an expansion will continue to ruin families and continue to be a detriment to society.
Lorin L. Clemenz serves as coordinator of the Indiana Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. He is a retired Elder of the North Indiana Conference.
For your Senator's or Representative's contact information, log on to www.in.gov/legislative/contact/.