N G I S C Chicago Meeting, May 20, 1998




MR. SEITZ: Good afternoon. My name is Bill Seitz. I work for the Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association and I'm chair of the religious task force to oppose increased legalized gambling, an organization of religious groups and other organizations opposed to the spread of casinos to Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. The group has been actively opposing the spread of gambling since 1993.

The task force has looked at several aspects of gambling in Chicago. First, we have monitored the success of the gambling institutions and the shift of citizens becoming losers in the whole gambling game in Illinois. Another was to poll public sentiment on issues of gambling expansion in the city, finally a measure of how gambling impacts the city's very poorest, the homeless.

Gambling's success is based on an individual's failure. In 1996 the Illinois Gaming Board revealed how players continued to be losers at casinos, at the ten gambling boats in Illinois. Over 25 million people in Illinois gambled in boats in 1996. They lost a staggering $950 million. In 1995 the religious task force to oppose increased gambling released a poll conducted by the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago on gambling. The survey revealed an opposition to the expansion of riverboats, development of land based casinos and poker video machines. The poll further revealed 70 percent of those polled support a state or local referendum on the expansion of gambling. We're still waiting on the referendum.

After all the discussion was over, the people felt that gambling in Chicago, the religious task force said, that previously only 57.4 percent of Chicago voters have rejected land based casinos in 1989 referendum. The first survey ever done on homelessness and gambling, an unhealthy mix, asked the city's homeless services providers five questions concerning the impact of gambling and homelessness. The results show a strong relationship between gambling and homelessness.

82 percent think all forms of gambling available is addictive. 73 percent, gambling including playing the lottery makes it difficult for homeless people to put their lives back together. And an astounding 33 percent answered gambling is a factor in homelessness in the people in their program. Another 76 percent said there are too many gambling opportunities in the metro area. The social implications of gambling predicated on the individuals having to be a loser to make the system work runs counter to the American ideals of fairness and hard work.

We have provided some important points of concern. The religious task force encourages the National Gambling Impact Study group to adopt these points in the interim. By the way, we've heard about 80 million to one tonight for Powerball. Your chances of falling out of bed and dying are two million to one. Thank you.


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