Readers Respond

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Letters to Pilot

A human face on the gambling referendum

What's the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word "rich"? Now consider this question: How much money would it take for you to feel "rich"? The business of gambling has, at its very center, the vision of "getting rich." Though people play for different reasons, those who progress into a deeper pattern develop a belief in their potential to get rich through gambling. One "big win" equals financial security. It is this illusion that keeps far too many people playing longer than they ever envisioned. In the past few weeks, we have read editorial after editorial that have presented us with the hard, cold FACTS!

Gambling is a gamble! There are losers and winners - with far more losers than winners. Big losses are figured in to allow for the few big wins. Gambling businesses will never lose money, but the players do-and the big profit goes to those who manage the outcomes. Gambling organizations are NOT in this business to make money for you or your community!

Our culture places a strong emphasis on money. There is a focus on security through money, on the possessions it can buy. Additionally, an interwoven focus on independence drives the gambler with the conviction that money is the vehicle that will achieve this priority. It's all an illusion!

People who develop a gambling problem go way beyond mere security. For these individuals, it's about winning big, often to offset the debt they have created by their preoccupation with gambling. Pretty soon, it becomes less about fun, and far more about desperation. Their dreams and nightmares become interwoven. The losses far exceed the winnings for those who have progressed into a gambling problem. Fear, guilt, and shame are tied to what has already been sacrificed in an effort to fulfill this elusive dream of financial freedom. Instead of realizing their dream, they have become slaves to gambling instead.

Financial security is put on the line for the sake of "one big win." A vicious, destructive cycle is formed. It is reinforced by a growing need to win to offset losses - hidden losses that the gambler attempts to deny and that loved ones know nothing about.

Friendships and family relationships end up suffering irreparable damage.

Make no mistake about it! If we allow casino gambling into Buena Vista County, there WILL be problem gamblers among our families and friends. My question to you is this. Will it be your husband or wife? Will it be your father or mother? Will it be your grandfather or grandmother? Will it be your son or daughter? Will it be your neighbor or friend? Is this what we want for ourselves and for our loved ones? Let's keep Buena Vista County a place with a truly "beautiful view"- a place that doesn't expose our families and friends to this horrible destruction of lives and relationships. Vote NO on November 7th to the casino referendum.

- Rev. Steve Schulz, Grace Lutheran Church, Storm Lake