I am writing to voice my opposition to the proposal to put a casino in Mississippi County. I am sure many good people are unaware of the true facts concerning gambling and casinos. They promise jobs and tax revenue but never mention the problems of gambling addiction, increased alcoholism, increased drug use, prostitution, divorce and bankruptcy. All these go up significantly within 50 miles of a casino. Casinos prey upon the poor and weak, those who can least afford to lose.
Current estimates list approximately 2.5 million people as pathological gamblers, and another 15 million people as at risk to become problem or pathological gamblers. Casinos survive on problem and pathological gamblers. University of Illinois economist Earl Grinois has calculated that 52 percent of casino revenues come from active problem and pathological gamblers. Of course this translates into higher divorce, bankruptcy and crime! Nevada had the fourth highest bankruptcy rate in the nation in 1996. Mississippi, the state with the second-highest level of gambling per capita, ranked fifth in the nation in per-capita bankruptcy filings.
Studies show that crime rates are greatly higher in counties with casinos than the crime rates of counties without casinos. The total number of crimes within a 30-mile radius of Atlantic City increased by 107 percent in the nine years following the introduction of casinos to the area. A 1996 U.S. News and World report analysis found crime rates in casino communities to be 84 percent higher than the national average.
Gambling takes money away from other local businesses. In Gilpin County, Colo., the number of retail businesses dropped from 31 before gambling to 11 within a couple of years after casinos arrived. Gilpin County is home to the majority of the state's casinos. More than 70 percent of businesses in Natchez, Miss., reported declining sales within a few months of the opening of the city's first riverboat. A University of South Dakota study showed that retail and service businesses in South Dakota suffered a net loss of approximately $60 million in anticipated sales in the year following the introduction of gambling.
A 1995 survey of Illinois casino found that 85 percent of their patrons lived within 50 miles of the casino at which they were gambling. An Iowa State University study found that 94 percent of the gamblers at the Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino in Des Moines came from within the state, and nearly two-thirds of those people lived in the county where the racetrack/casino is located.
It is easy to see that a casino drains the county and area within 50 miles of its resources and increases crime, divorce, alcoholism, bankruptcy, drug use and prostitution. Casinos and gambling are a cancer that eats away at the life of a county.
Gambling is morall
y wrong, spiritually wrong and economically bad. I urge everyone to voice their opposition immediately and write, call or e-mail the Missouri Gaming Commission, P.O. Box 1847, Jefferson City, MO 65102-1847; (573) 526-4080; firstname.lastname@example.org Also call or write your Mississippi County Commissioners, the East Prairie mayor and the Charleston City Council with your opposition to having a casino in Mississippi County.
One last question: Why did Cape Girardeau so adamantly oppose a casino?