By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
July 22, 2021
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, says that during his more than twenty years as a lobbyist for conservative evangelicals, Republicans have more often than not supported policies consistent with biblical teachings. Democrats, on the other hand, characteristically oppose these policies. “But I am concerned we’re seeing even our Republican friends starting to drift,” said Creech. “I think my concerns are valid, as well as disturbing.”
Creech cited the medical marijuana legislation that continues moving forward in the Senate. “A few years ago, supporting the legalization of smoked marijuana as medicine would have been rejected hands down by Republicans,” Creech said. “Even a few months ago, most Republicans in the Senate, I think, would have rightly rejected it on principle, but I’m not sure whether this is the case today. Some are now being swayed by emotional anecdotal arguments and the projection of millions of dollars from the cannabis industry.”
Another matter of similar concern, says Creech, is the issue of gambling. More specifically, sports gambling.
“Despite the fact it’s obvious that gambling is socially harmful because of the way it preys on the poorest segment of our population – because of the way people get addicted – because of the way it exacerbates issues of personal debt and bankruptcy – because of the way it destroys marriages and families – because of the way it produces increases in crime, I cannot understand why a Republican majority would even entertain a bill to expand gambling in North Carolina. Still, it’s happening,” said Creech.
SB 688 – Sports Wagering was filed in April and currently resides in the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick). The measure would legalize sports betting in the Tar Heel state.
Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) is the bill’s primary sponsor, and five other Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, which include: Senators Kathy Harrington (Gaston), Todd Johnson (Union), Michael A. Lazzara (Onslow), Tom McInnis (R-Anson), and Bill Rabon (Brunswick).
Perry recently told WRAL News that there had been talks going on about SB 688. He says the impetus for the proposal is that it’s a better alternative to raising property taxes on the Eastern North Carolina communities he represents.
According to WRAL, not only do some Republicans like the idea, but so does Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper told the news agency, “With the internet, people are doing it, and it’s very difficult for law enforcement to stop it. So, we might as well control it and get the revenue from it,” said Cooper. “I think having the state control it and being able to get some of the revenue to invest in education and health care and some of the things we need to do [would be good], as long as we put the guardrails that are there.”
In May of 2018, the United States Supreme Court knocked down the federal ban on sports gambling in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association, clearing the way for the legalization of sports betting by the states. Sports betting is now legal in more than two dozen states.
In North Carolina, Sports Gambling is currently legal by federal statute at the casinos on the Cherokee reservation and the new Catawba casino near Shelby.
Rev. Creech said it troubles him when he hears the refrain from lawmakers that we might as well legalize something because people are already doing it.
“A law of prohibition on any act never keeps everybody from doing it. People were doing it before the law, and some will keep doing it after a law prohibiting it is enacted. But can you imagine someone arguing that we should raise the speed limit because so many people are already ignoring it? Think of the carnage raising it would bring. It’s the same with gambling. Whether we realize it or not, the law is a great teacher, and it encourages or discourages a behavior.
“Allow me to provide another example. Today, thousands of jobs are available, but many people would rather sit at home and draw unemployment and get something for nothing. I think something which has contributed to this is our loosening of gambling laws. In doing so, we have inadvertently undermined the work ethic and created a cultural environment that celebrates the notion of getting something for nothing,” said Creech. “What we do by law sets the moral tone whether we want to accept this as fact or not. And yes, gambling has contributed to this.”
Sen. Perry said the sports wagering bill is likely to be heard in August.
“It’s painful enough watching our culture drift more each day toward the precipice, but it’s even more painful to watch some of our Republican friends leading the way,” said Creech. “There needs to be a course correction here. We can address these problems without making them legal.”