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Letters to the Editor 2/23

February 23, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/23



Gambling huge problem in Md.



To the editor:

Just a quick note to thank the "Our View" column in the Monday Morning Herald. Not enough emphasis has been placed on the darker side of gambling. Here's hoping that the folks there at The Herald-Mail will do more columns exposing the enormous cost and hurt gambling causes.

It should be pointed out that while Gov. Glendening says he is an opponent of slot machines and casino type gambling, and says "the states economy should be based on producing things, not on tempting citizens to risk their money on games of chance" he is a supporter of and is pushing hard for the establishment of a horse-racing and off-track betting facility in, of all places, rural Little Orleans, Md., about 12 miles west of Hancock. These types of gambling are stepping stones to other forms of gambling and are as bad as other types of gambling at ruining lives and families and costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

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According to a recent study Maryland has 50,000 known pathological gamblers who cost businesses and citizens of the state $1.5 billion dollars per year in lost productivity and embezzled, stolen or otherwise abused dollars. The total cumulative indebtedness of Maryland's pathological gamblers exceeds $4 billion.

According to testimony the compulsive gambler has an average gambling debt of $43,000; 85 percent have stolen from employers; 75 percent have committed a felony; 31 percent are delinquent in paying taxes and 80 percent have committed civil offenses. And families suffer from lost income and abuse resulting from gambling addiction. Studies show that 100 percent of compulsive gamblers are in some way physically or emotionally abusive, especially to children and 17 percent have attempted suicide.

It is also noteworthy that gambling is the fastest growing addiction among teens and estimates are that between 5 and 11 percent will become compulsive gamblers.

Given the above, maybe the best thing we can do educationally is to teach people about the harm done by gambling and spare them of it; and to teach our children that we can resist the urge legalize these harmful practices just so we can use part of the proceeds for education. I would venture to guess that if gambling were outlawed we would have sufficient money to use toward education derived from money no longer needed to treat the social ills of gambling addiction.

We should also remind the governor of the hypocrisy of opposing one form of gambling addiction while vigorously advocating for another. All these forms of gambling seriously hurt Maryland's people.

Edward L. James

Hancock

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