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Say ’no’ to constitutional amendment for commercial casinos in New York

January 16, 2013

[Editor’s note: This letter, which opposes commercial cassino gambling in New York, was written by Anna Kay France of Buffalo, NY and is circulating as an online petition. A number of residents in the Upper Delaware Valley have signed it including some from Narrowsburg, Yulan and Callicoon.]

Casino gambling is not a harmless way to raise state revenue.

Here’s the experience of one gambler now in recovery.

“I lost just about everything because of my addiction to gambling. I nearly lost my life.

“I was in my late 40s and had never gambled before. I had a good job, a happy marriage, and close relationships with my grandchildren. When a casino run by Native Americans opened in Niagara Falls, NY, near my home, I went there with a friend—just for fun, an evening of entertainment. But within a matter of months I’d become addicted to gambling, and casino gambling began to consume my life.

“I was one of the lucky ones. I finally managed to emerge on the other side after years of compulsive gambling, depression, bankruptcy, my own suicide attempt and the actual suicide of a friend who owed $2,000 to the casino and was being hounded by threats of legal action and jail.

“It has now been 15 months since I’ve placed a bet, and I’m putting my life back in order. But I know I’ll remain susceptible to gambling for the rest of my life, and I’ll never recover the years I lost when my grandsons were growing up—and I was in the casino.

“I don’t buy the argument that we won’t create new gamblers by creating new casinos—that we’ll just ‘capture’ the gamblers who would otherwise cross state lines to gamble anyway. My own experience is that the proximity of a casino makes it far easier to start gambling and to develop and maintain a compulsive gambling habit. Research bears out this common sense observation.

“We need to realize that ‘problem’ or addicted gamblers like me provide a major percentage of the profits of gambling casinos—statistics range from 30 to 70%. Whatever lip service casino owners pay to promoting ‘responsible gaming,’ they make huge profits from people who gamble more than they can afford, whose lives are devastated by gambling addiction. Not only is this an ethically questionable way to raise state revenue, but there is a high economic cost to problem gambling and addiction—crime (embezzlement, fraud, etc.), business failures, bankruptcy, loss of economic productivity, addiction treatment, divorce, etc.”—Birgit C.