NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. STIEGLER: Stiegler.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Stiegler.
MR. STIEGLER: My name is Doug Stiegler. I'm the Director of the Family Protection Lobby in the State of Maryland, represent families, about 15,000 people, in the state.
In several of our newsletters in the past three years, we've addressed the gambling issue, and in each one of those I've always gotten responses to no casinos, no gambling, no expansion, and not one that says, "We want it."
Does that mean that these people don't gamble? I don't think so. They bet on the Super Bowl. They bet their neighbor on the Super Bowl and that kind of a thing. They go to bingo. They even go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas.
But what it does mean is that they're opposed to it for several reasons, and one is moral decay. More and more young people are becoming addicted to gambling all over the country. There's a numbing of the social conscience. The message is: everybody's doing it. What's the big deal? Somebody's got to win. It might as well be me.
Consequences for the gambling are not weighed.
The second is easy accessibility. Initially casinos were in a far away place. A conscious effort had to be made to go there. Most people are realizing that they don't want to have one of these on the way home from work. This could be a problem in their communities.
In the packet that I have prepared for you there are two quarterly reports from the Delaware Council on Gaming, Gaming Problems. The highlights show the increase in the number of calls to the Gambling Problem Commission and also that there are more females than males. Their main problem is with slot machines and most of them are married, and this is a family issue, and that's what concerns me and the people that I represent.
Government promotion and encouragement is the third thing that people are concerned with. They see an example of the state lotteries, which we have in Maryland. It started out that in the first year the lottery in 1973 was one weekly game. It has expanded every two to three years with little or no legislative oversight. It just has taken hold because it's been granted.
It now has a life of its own. There are numerous instant games, scratch-off games, pick threes played twice daily, pick fours twice daily. Lotto is $1 million twice weekly game. Match five has expanded to seven days a week. Keno is played every five minutes, 19 hours a day in Maryland.
These games take in over $1 billion, and they're predominantly from the lower income communities. The lowest level of spending is from the highest income counties.
With ads like these, and these are out of the local Baltimore Sun, we can see that there's a growing dependency from the state. These ads are paid for with state dollars, taxpayer dollars.
The trend is that we want to see this reversed at the state level and the local level where government should be a protector and not a predator.
And I thank you all for being involved with us in this issue.