Gambling is just a bad bet for Missouri
June 22, 2004
The Missouri state motto is: “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.” It has been a long time since I was confronted with this basic tenet of Missouri . I was first taught this in the Missouri civics portion of my sixth-grade class in Jackson . Our state has moved a long way from really implementing this motto.
Instead of looking out for the welfare of its people, our state government is exploiting its people in an effort to raise more money to spend, money used primarily for entitlements — for someone. Politicians who attempt to “buy” votes by bringing home entitlements for their people do not have the welfare of the people in mind. They are concerned about their own welfare (re-election).
What is the cost of gambling in Missouri ?
I see billboards all across our state erected by the casino industry telling Missourians how much money they are “contributing” to education, war veterans and other causes. But what is the cost for these driblets of money? Let me give you some data from a December 2000 study conducted by Earl L. Grinols of the University of Illinois and David B. Mustard of the University of Georgia :
Amount gambled (lost) in Missouri casinos
|Revenue (tax) to the state (20%)
|Population of adults in Missouri
|Pathological gambling prevalency rate
|Pathological gamblers in Missouri
Cost per pathological gambler per year*
|Cost due to addiction (59,955 x $13,586)
|Cost due to addiction
|Revenue to State of Missouri (20%)
|Loss to society/taxpayers
($ 572,123,533 )
|Loss to gamblers
You see, casino gambling does NOT add anything to Missouri ; it actually costs Missouri more than $572 million every year. One researcher at a gambling hearing I attended said that each casino in Missouri , on an average, takes $660 million dollars annually out of the state. In St Louis alone, that portion of the state must produce $3.3 BILLION worth of durable goods to hand over to gambling interests outside the state. Gambling is a bad bet in St Louis.
Gambling produces nothing toward the gross national product; it produces no wealth or durable goods. I think you could compare casinos, for example, to strip mines. Strip mines come into an area, lay back the pristine countryside, extract the wealth and then leave the area in ruins. Do you think that gambling enriches an economy? Then may I point you to the old ghost towns of the western United States . When the gold and silver mines played out and when the railroad and cattle yards played out, were the towns sustained by gambling? No, the towns died. Gambling does not support an economy. It is a leech.
What is the REAL cost to Missouri?
The real cost is not seen by the state gambling commission, our governor or the General Assembly. The real cost is in the devastated families and lives.
On May 24, I attended an all day Missouri Gambling Commission hearing in Maryland Heights . I spoke against the expansion of casino gambling in Missouri .
I heard testimony about a senior adult widow lady who gambled away her entire estate, children’s educational funds, and a family farm because of gambling debts. I told them Southern Baptist pastors spend untold numbers of hours counseling families through marriage and financial crisis brought on by gambling losses. I added that Missouri Baptists support economic growth and the expansion of business, but we are first and foremost for the family. I told them gambling is a bad bet for families and pleaded with them to halt the expansion of gambling in Missouri.
What can you do?
First, register to vote (registration deadline for the Aug. 3 primary is July 7). Then go vote against the expansion of gambling in Missouri . We have a new MBC website with resources for you and your friends to use and educate yourself regarding gambling. Access it at: www.nomogambling.com. Another good source of information is www.casinowatch.org.
Are you undecided about gambling? Then turn to the infallible source of wisdom, the Bible. The Word of God gives us instruction about life and living. The problem is that few “Christian” people have a biblical world-life view. Fewer still actually live a Christian world-life view.
Years ago I served on the staff of a great church in Fort Worth , Texas . My pastor, Paul Burleson, was broken hearted beyond description after a deacons’ meeting in which one of the deacons said to him, “Now brother Paul, I am a Christian on Sunday, but on Monday I am a businessman … .” Paul was sharing the brokenness that came out of that meeting with me and a couple of his other key staff members. We were all grieved that anyone could live so compartmentally. But today, many do so. Evidently that deacon thought Jesus was not concerned about how he lived Monday through Saturday.
• In a survey of seven denominations, George Barna found that Southern Baptist ministers had the highest percentage of pastors with biblical worldviews (71 percent). While we are thankful for that, must we not stop and ask what happened to the other 29 percent who call themselves Southern Baptist?
• Further study revealed that seminary-trained pastors were more likely to not hold to a biblical worldview than those who were not seminary trained. Thankfully, it is no longer true in our Southern Baptist seminaries. Our students are now being trained to hold to a biblical worldview.
• In a December 2003 report, pollster George Barna showed only four percent of American adults held to a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making. When considering those who claimed to be born again only nine percent reported making their decisions based on a biblical worldview.
What does the Bible have to say about gambling? Let me offer just a few verses for consideration: We are not to covet (Ex. 20:17, Rom. 13:9, Col. 3:5); honest work is commanded, whereas gambling encourages a something-for-nothing attitude (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:10-12); gambling is addictive (1 Cor. 6:12); we are supposed to work for what we get (Prov. 13:11; Eccl. 5:10-12; 1 Tim. 6:6-11); we are to make wise investments of our wealth (Luke 12:42-43); everything you do is to be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); we are to separate ourselves from the ungodly (2 Cor. 6:17).
Now we need to apply these truths. For Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I say?”