NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MS. PLANTE: My name is Lisa Plante. I'm a lifelong resident of Fall River, Massachusetts. I'm also president of the organization, Stop the Casino. Stop the Casino is a recognized group established in the spring of 1994. It is a diverse group of citizens that ranges from progressive Democrats to conservative Republicans.
We are organizing the greater Fall River area to oppose the expansion of gambling through petition, education and legislation. Our present focus is to educate the community about the social and economic effects of gambling. The city has been under an advertising blitz that is pro-casino. Casino proponents are promising our residents a new economic rebirth, we differ with their claims.
I became concerned with the gambling issue when I began meeting people who thought the proposal of a high stakes bingo hall would not be good for our city. As I began my own research into gambling I was shocked at how our local officials were pushing gambling as economic development. We are outraged in finding that casinos target economically depressed areas like Fall River.
We have found that the industry has an all consuming appetite and that the citizens of the city will be the main losers and their losses will not go back into the city, but into the coffers of rich casino owners. The gambling interest has influenced our city fathers as if what is most important here is what is good for the tribe and casino owners and not what is good for the city of Fall River and its citizens.
This idea of gambling as economic development to us in our community is insane. Another problem we see is one of social concern. The gambling industry has whitewashed itself as being a family oriented entertainment center, adding amusement parks, restaurants and day care centers, so while mom and dad are eating and drinking for a very low cost or no cost at all, they are gambling their paychecks away. We do not accept the casino propaganda machine's picture of gambling as being entertainment for the entire family, this is not clean American fun and children do not belong in casinos at all.
Another thing we've learned about the gambling industry is where there is big money there is also corruption. We are aware the gambling industry is handing out millions of dollars to federal, state and local campaigns and the money is distributed to both Democrats and Republicans. We know money equals influence and what angers us is that elected officials will undoubtedly vote in the interests of their contributors and not in the interests of their constituents. This practice is hurting our country.
We as concerned citizens go on record as opponents of the proposed Wampanoag Carnival Bingo Hall Casino project located in Fall River. We are also very much opposed to the expansion of any legalized gambling under the disguise of economic development. This is an issue that transcends partisan politics and is of equal concern to all people, no matter what religious or moral values they hold. It is an economic issue that will ultimately effect the quality of life in our city and surrounding communities for decades to come.
We appreciate this opportunity to voice our concerns. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you.