Vote `No' on Issue 1

Article excerpt

Without a doubt, our biggest challenges in Ohio and America are caused by the breakdown of the family. Particularly in our urban areas, we are already fighting an uphill battle to keep families together, keep kids in school, and keep drugs, weapons, and other negative influences away from our children. I am opposed to Issue 1 because casino gambling will only make these problems worse.

Casino gambling has been rightfully called the "crack cocaine" of gambling addiction. To comprehend the full impact of its poison on families, consider these facts from Nevada, where casino gambling has been legal since 1931: Nevada residents recorded the nation's highest suicide rates, high-school dropout rates, and children's death from abuse in the years when Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, were the only venues allowing legalized casinos.

As family problems increase, so does the crime in our schools and neighborhoods. A U.S. News and World Report analysis showed that communities with casinos recorded a 5.8 percent increase in crime rates in 1994, while the nation as a whole fell 2 percent. One year after casinos came to Gulfport, Mississippi, the number of rapes and robberies tripled, burglaries doubled, assaults nearly doubled, and car thefts nearly tripled.

These problems are why every statewide law enforcement group opposed Issue 1, including Ohio's county sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecuting attorneys, and top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

Furthermore, we will all pay the costs triggered by these problems. John Warren Kindt, an economics professor at the University of Illinois, estimates that for every $1 gambling generates in tax revenue, it also generates $3 in social costs. These include social safety net costs triggered by personal bankruptcies, foreclosures, and so forth, and public safety costs from increased criminal activity, drunken driving, embezzlement, and fraud. In the end, casinos will cost Ohioans about $600 million a year.

Our state and nation have spent a tremendous amount of energy on making our welfare system work better and more efficiently. When the full impact of casinos hits, we'll see an even greater strain on our welfare network, multiplied by the estimated sixty thousand adult compulsive gamblers that casinos will create.

Those are shocking figures--and the worst part about them is that they describe a trail of broken families left in gamblings aftermath. …