Special Legislative Session Video Lottery Terminals and Table Games - Expansion

Video Lottery Terminals and Table Games - Expansion

Christopher M. Ross Associate Director, Social Concerns

August 9, 2012

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

The Conference opposes this bill out of concern for the potentially detrimental impact gambling expansion could have on families and communities.
While the Church does not hold that gambling is intrinsically evil or immoral, it becomes morally problematic when it interferes with an individual’s other duties or responsibilities. If properly controlled, gambling (i.e. community raffle, bingo event, lottery tickets, racetrack betting, or a casino game) can provide legitimate recreation for those who participate responsibly. However, the caretakers for other family members - especially mothers and fathers - with serious financial responsibilities for their children’s well-being have a need for moderation to avoid addictions and unhealthy behaviors surrounding gambling.

The Conference has consistently opposed the expansion of gambling in Maryland. In the past, we opposed similar legislation that permitted certain horse racetracks to provide video lottery terminals for public use, as well as legislation to regulate and fund those activities, due to our concern that such expansions could eventually result in full expansion towards casino gambling. This previous concern is now before the Legislature. The Conference’s concern is not so much for the casual gambler but more so for those with lower incomes who may become addicted to gambling and thus more heavily in debt and more likely to bring financial ruin to themselves and their families.

For these reasons, we urge an unfavorable report.