NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Mary Handley.
MS. HANDLEY: Hello. My name is Mary Handley. I'm a member of the citizens group in Dorchester County, Maryland, and we are dedicated to fighting any expansion or slots in our county, in our state, and in this nation.
While casinos and slots are not legal in Maryland at this time, my community has been targeted by Harvey's Casino as a site for construction of a multimillion dollar facility on the banks of the Choptank River in Cambridge.
Their representatives, contractor Nathan Landau and lobbyist Gerald Evans, are aggressively pressuring our representatives, offering things like all expenses paid trips to their facility in Iowa. You can imagine how difficult it is for grassroots organization to compete with this kind of information gathering technique, and so I'm here for three reasons today.
Number one, to ask for your help. We take your job seriously as information gatherers. We are watching you and waiting for you to deliver your final product so that we can present it to our officials. We want them to wait and make a truly informed decision without the influence of lobbyists who do not understand our community and who seek personal profits.
Number two, I've come to deliver a message, and the message is that in Dorchester County and in cities across this country, citizens are organized and networking to prevent the expansion of gambling because we know the costs associated with the negative aspects of this industry are just too much, too expensive for our governments, our taxpayers to bear.
And, number three, I've come to ask you a question, and the question is: what are the numbers that you need to hear as a committee to be convinced that gambling is bad for America?
When it comes to gambling addiction, gambling related bankruptcies, and gambling related crime, I'd like to know how much is too much. You see, not everyone is concerned about thousands of addicted gamblers. Is a million enough?
In Iowa bankruptcies attributed to gambling debt, that's 34 percent in one year. Is this bad enough?
How many incidences of gambling related crime would convince this committee that enough is enough?
So, in other words, we would like to know what is your criteria statistically speaking. WE're all waiting for your answers. Those of us in grassroots organizations are here today. We will be at every community meeting to discuss this topic until this fight is won, and we thank you for your effort and the time that you have placed with this committee to study this issue.
Thank you very much for your time.