To the Editor:
My family has lived in Washington for the past 11 years and has loved the "family" feel of this community. Because "family" watches out for each other, makes the most of opportunities to help one another and doesn't just warn of danger ahead, but joins forces against it, I'm compelled to write this letter.
Washington family, there is danger ahead. Reading the recent articles on the possibility of a casino in the Riverside area has awakened me to the reality that unless we join forces quickly we could be living out the sobering findings of a study done by the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) comprised of nine members (five appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans). The study's findings include: Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries. More than $600 billion is wagered legally in the United States annually. Nearly one in five homeless people admit that gambling contributed to their poverty, and yet 37 percent said that they continue to gamble.
Gambling, like many compulsive behaviors, is addictive and progressive by nature and is especially dangerous to the young, who are enticed by exciting and risky behaviors. Five to 8 percent of American adolescents are already addicted to gambling. A study of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) found that only 8 percent were able to stop their gambling even after attending GA for two years.
A quote from the study states: "A mountain of evidence presented to our Commission demonstrates a direct link between problem and pathological gambling and divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy, crime and suicide. More than 15.4 million adults and adolescents meet the technical criteria of those disorders."
Dear Washington family, do we want to be included in that number?
I conclude with a quote from commission member Richard Leone, president of The Century Foundation: "Gambling should be a bedrock issue for all conservatives who care about families and the virtues of self-reliance and prudence; and it should be the same kind of issue for liberals who also believe in families and the importance of fairness and economic justice. Only an aroused and informed public will change the nation's direction on gambling. The clear message that should emerge from the work of our commission is that the case for more gambling is far weaker than is generally understood. It will not stand scrutin6y, and it will not succeed if people of good will join hands to resist it."