Montgomery County officials Ken Rose and Matt Ossenfort stated in a Feb. 4 article in The Leader-Herald they have heard nothing negative from county residents regarding the building of a casino in Amsterdam.
Let this letter serve to correct that situation.
From a purely economic standpoint, revenues from casinos can be fleeting. Here are some stats from an Oct. 24 N.Y. Times editorial: Atlantic City's falling revenues have pushed unemployment to 18 percent, and the poverty level includes 29.3 percent of residents. Their crime rate is almost triple that of the surrounding county. Delaware's Gov. Markell promised an $8 million bailout last June of three casinos. The National Assoc. of Realtors reported in July new casinos built in Massachusetts have a "generally negative" effect on home prices. Other communities have reported a loss in local business as gamblers are swept into the casino and stay there to spend their money.
The Washington Post quoted studies showing casinos increase social problems, including problem gambling, substance abuse, mental illness and suicide, violent crime, auto theft, larceny and bankruptcy.
Gambling also is a high cash business that attracts professional criminals who come to launder money, as reported by The Oklahoman.
These are the practical issues we will face if we bring a casino into Montgomery County. My concern, however, goes deeper. I question the effects of a casino on the quality of life in this rural area and on the personal values it will promote in the community.
Gambling, by its very nature, is a get-rich-quick scheme. It promotes the fantasy that just one more bet will be the answer to all your dreams, as opposed to the persistence that working hard and saving money will provide.
Gambling as a lifestyle promotes a "me-first" culture. When you're looking for the next big payoff, you don't notice the problems in your own home and no less the neighbor who may need help. You aren't thinking about giving back to your community, about making this world a better place to live. And the last thing you're concerned with is serving God, by combating an evil world with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
A society that revolves around gambling is not one I want to promote. Nor is it the community where I want to live. God willing, I'll be able to move away before it happens here.
JEAN A. LEONARD