By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
April 8, 2021
Someone has said that gambling is the one sure way of getting nothing for something. But a report, which the N.C. legislature requested and the North Carolina Education Lottery commissioned begs to differ.
Spectrum Gaming created the report, which was originally only supposed to study sports gambling but was changed to include other gambling forms. WRAL Investigates obtained the report from a public records request and says the state’s revenue projections are “staggering.”
According to WRAL, the state could gain within five years as much as “$2.2 billion in revenue from casinos, $2.5 billion from statewide video poker, $367 million in sports betting, $300 million from internet casino games, and $15 million on horses.”
WRAL says that Spectrum’s report recommends locating “three casinos in the Charlotte area, two in the Triangle and one each in Pinehurst, Wilmington, Winston-Salem and Asheville.” North Carolina has two casinos located on the Cherokee nation in Western North Carolina and one in the works planned for the Catawba tribe in Cleveland county.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he felt certain lawmakers would use the report to make a case for more legalized gambling in the state. He referred to two bills, which he said had already been filed. SB 498 – Gaming Machine Enforcement would essentially revive the video poker industry, and SB 688 – Sports Wagering would legalize sports gaming throughout the state, which is currently only legal on the Cherokee reservation.
Creech added he finds it tragically humorous any lawmaker in the General Assembly would want to try the failed experiment of gaming for public education and other projects.
“The reason this is being considered is there hasn’t been enough money for school construction, which the North Carolina Education Lottery promised,” said Creech. “The Christian Action League, as well as the organization, Citizens United Against the Lottery, warned about this before the state approved a state operated lottery by one vote in August of 2005. I hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. Now they want to try something of the same, which will end the same way. As the Scriptures say, ‘As the dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly'” (Prov. 26:11).
Stop Predatory Gambling (SPG), a national anti-gambling group based in Washington, D.C., notes that in 1969, New Jersey Congressman Cornelius Gallagher claimed that if the state would enact a lottery, “We could abandon all taxation in New Jersey and increase every service in our state four times over.”
“Today, New Jersey has a state lottery, several casinos, online casino gambling, and commercialized sports betting. Yet the state is in the worst fiscal condition of any U.S. state, ranking 48th in the nation in George Mason University Mercatus Center’s report on the fiscal condition of states. New Jersey exemplifies how government-sanctioned gambling has been a spectacular failure as a revenue source,” says SPG.
SPG also reports that gambling produces major social costs that end up being footed by the taxpayer. It targets and exploits the financially desperate, as well as cultivates addiction. SPG notes:
“Gambling leads to increases in rates of personal bankruptcy and provides new avenues for crime and money laundering. Gambling operators don’t pay for the harm they cause families, businesses, and communities. Taxpayers do. Lower-income Americans lose money on gambling, get it back by relying on more financial help from the government, who get it from taxpayers.”
“Please don’t try to argue to me that gaming is a matter of personal freedom. Free for who? I don’t gamble. Many of us never gamble. Yet those of us who don’t participate in gaming are forced to contribute to the social costs whether we do or don’t. That’s not freedom for me,” said Creech.
Creech added the Christian Action League would vigorously oppose any initiative in the Tar Heel state to expand gambling. He continued:
“It’s not right for the government to capitalize on something that preys on its own citizens – especially the most vulnerable. This report from Spectrum will, unquestionably, be used to argue for several gambling bills expected to be filed. Some will say these initiatives make sense, but it doesn’t make sense to fund public education and other state-run programs with unstable and inadequate income streams derived from human weakness. I want to believe our people are better than this. May God forgive us if we aren’t.”
The Christian Action League urges its supporters to be on high alert and ready to urge state lawmakers to resist efforts to expand gambling in North Carolina.