NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
N G I S C Chicago Meeting, May 20, 1998
MR. MILTON GOLD
CHAIRMAN JAMES; Milton Gold.
MR. GOLD: I've submitted mine in writing with some documentation. I would like to just skip through it. I know it's too long to read. Someone has said that legalized gambling is the politician's dream and the public's nightmare. Our nightmare began in LaPorte County in Michigan City, Indiana in August, 1993. I want to share some of that nightmare because it's one of fear and intimidation imposed by those who were pro gaming on not just those of us, a small group that opposed but on the business, community and civic leaders.
I provided some documentation on that. I've been a pastor for almost 30 years and I've long understood that the world didn't much care what we preached within our four walls as long we didn't take that message into the streets. When we hit the street with it, I found out that there was another world out there and we began to experience that.
What I hadn't been aware of, as we tried to oppose the riverboat gambling coming into our particular area was having the fear that people had. In Michigan City there were 430 Chamber of Commerce members and only 30 voted for supporting this casino. One of them told me secretively and provided some information that they didn't dare talk publicly for fear that the fire marshall or somebody would show up and close down their particular business. City employees had a bit of arm twisting from the city mayor, strongly suggesting that they vote for the riverboat because they needed the jobs and they needed the income. Restaurant owners feared the health department would show up. These are people that talked to me. Construction companies were the same way. We had one person that did support us from construction and immediately when the support became public information, the unions pulled three jobs from him.
So there was all kinds of harassment and even harassment of the six of us who got together to combat the coming of the riverboat gambling. On the day of the voting, they had brought in people from Chicago to run the vote in Michigan City. That's in the paper, and I've documented some of that. We were outspent something like 342,000 to $2,700 and they won by less than a percent of the vote.
Someone said that this is compassion. We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront those persons and systems that cause poverty. We cannot set the captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the keys. We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are opposed when we're unwilling to confront the oppressor. Compassion without confrontation fades quickly into fruitful sentimental commiseration. Someone else has said if you see a good fight, get in it.
So I speak for myself and the growing multitude across the country. We see a good fight and we're getting into it and because we care, we will fight the ravages of legalized gambling that's dealing a death blow to our citizens and our community and our youth, much like the tobacco industry. That comparison has been used a lot today. Like devastating fires, I say compassion can do no less.