Mr. Enright.

MR. ENRIGHT: Madame Chairman, my name is Michael Enright, and on behalf of Attorney General Joe Curran of Maryland, I wanted to thank you and the other Commissioners for allowing our office the opportunity to address the vexing issue of legalized gambling, and in particular, casino gambling in our state and in the nation.

I have with me a copy of Attorney General Curran's report issued in October '95 on how the introduction of casino gambling to the State of Maryland could affect our crime rates.

Attorney General Curran's position was and remains clear. Casino gambling means more crime, more violent crime, more theft, more insurance fraud, more white collar crime, and more juvenile crime. It is not a close call, though proponents of gambling will tell you it is.

Thus, we would ask you to accept our report, study it yourself, and answer the question for yourself. Will the lure of easy cash, will the problems of compulsive gamblers, the constant exposure of casino workers to substance abuse and other social ills, the pervasive availability of alcohol to casino patrons, and the growing problem of teenage gambling addiction increase our country's crime rates as so many law enforcement officers, social service officials, and elected representatives told it had already done in their subdivisions?

Economists call these ills negative externalities. We call them the glitches in the glitz. They are myriad, and we believe they overwhelmingly burden the cost side of any cost- benefit analysis.

We would also ask you to pay particularly close attention to the issue of juveniles and gambling. Although our report did not go into the issue of teenage gambling at great length, the information we did glean demonstrated that this is a growing problem. When coupled with Internet gambling, it could become a dangerously potent brew.

Finally, Attorney General Curran would ask you to consider the overriding public policy question legislatures will face and legislators will face when considering casino gambling. Do they as elected representatives really want to give their seal of approval to an industry whose bottom line function is to take a customer's money and give him or her little or nothing in return?

Those who claim the issue is one of entertainment are being disingenuous. When I go to Camden Yards in Baltimore, I know I'm going to see Cal Ripkin play. When I go hit the blackjack tables, I am not there because I like to watch the dealer flip cards and take my chips. I think I might win some money. If I have any sense at all, I know the odds are badly against me, and our elected representatives do know this. They know the house never loses.

How then can they condone this incredibly losing proposition to our citizens? What wisdom is there in approving such a scheme for our citizens, particularly when we combine it with the glitches in the glitz?

We wish you well in your efforts, and we'd be happy to work with you in the future.

Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Let's see. That was Mr. -- I'm sorry. I was distracted.

MR. ENRIGHT: Enright.


Back Contents Forward