Gambling leads to dire results

Currently, there is a legislative study committee tasked with the responsibility of presenting its findings regarding horse racing and pari-mutuel gambling in Georgia. The Georgia Baptist Convention has remained consistent in expressing opposition to any expansion of gambling.

In September 2010, the 120-member executive committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention — and also at the 189th annual meeting of the Convention in November 2010 — there were unanimous votes opposing expansion of gambling in Georgia. The Georgia Baptist Convention’s position can be summarized in five points:

Moral and biblical: Gambling creates a climate with a concept that one can strike it rich based on luck, rather than work and personal responsibility. The providence of God and personal accountability are overlooked with an aggressive campaign to entice people to depend upon luck for their success.

The state becomes a predator: When the state becomes involved in gambling, it places the state in the role of predator. With each bet placed, there are winners and losers. Gambling is more than risk-taking, as a vast majority of money placed in bets is not paid out in winnings but is taken as a revenue stream for the state and for those who conduct the event. Those who support expansion of gambling always promise that money will be deposited in the state treasury as a result of the bets placed at the gambling venue. This type of revenue stream can only be called a regressive tax.

Blight that occurs as a result of expanded gambling: There is always over-promise and under-delivery on this issue. The promises of jobs and benefits to education are dwarfed with the damage that is done to neighborhoods near the track. We were promised the lottery would be a pot of gold for education in Georgia. Yet that promise was not the full answer to educational funding in our state.

Personal impact and political corruption: With the addition of horse racing and pari-mutuel gambling, the door would be opened to casinos in our state. The majority of the horse racing tracks in our country now have casinos attached to them in order to be profitable.

And according to the American Psychiatric Association, as many as 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of adults are addicted to gambling.

There is also concern that as many as 8 percent of the teen population would be at risk to become addicted to gambling.

The Georgia Lottery Commission has announced results from a study it conducted that calls for casinos to be legal in order to provide more revenue for state coffers. Other states have issued indictments against elected officials because of corruption related to gambling.

We do not want to see the temptation that leads to political corruption that will have a negative impact upon our state. It would bring about serious deterioration of the moral, family and spiritual lives of residents in Georgia; therefore, we oppose any expansion of gambling.

Ray Newman, second vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, also pastors Macedonia Community Baptist Church in Braselton.