Don’t bet on Mass. gambling, Church says

iStock photo

BRAINTREE -- The Catholic Church in Massachusetts is adding its voice to those who say that expanded gambling is a poor bet for the commonwealth.

While several state politicians are again lining up to support legalizing casino gambling on grounds that it will generate revenue for the state and create jobs, opponents argue that casinos exploit the poor, lead to more crime, and increase unemployment.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, affirmed the state’s bishops’ opposition to the proposed expansion of legalized gambling during Oct. 2009 testimony to a legislative committee on Beacon Hill.

Addressing a legislative committee, MCC Executive Director Edward Saunders quoted a recent statement by the state’s bishops which says “in gambling, especially in casinos and high stake lotteries, there are increased dangers and abuses that warrant vigilance and concern. There is no doubt that gambling can victimize and often surpass ‘legitimate recreation.’ ... [C]asinos and the authorization for additional slot machines will raise gambling to a new level in our commonwealth. In addition, these can also encourage addictive gambling.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, while gambling can be a legitimate form of recreation, all types of gambling “become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement.”

House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) has recently expressed his support for the creation of casinos in Massachusetts and the installation of slot machines at state racetracks. Seth Gitell, a spokesman for DeLeo, said the speaker hopes to introduce a bill within the next two or three weeks.

DeLeo has two racetracks in his district -- Suffolk Downs in East Boston and Wonderland in Revere.

Suffolk Downs, a horse track, offers live races, but Wonderland features only simulcast greyhound racing after Massachusetts voters opted to ban live dog racing as of Jan. 1.

Developers are discussing a hotel, condos, and a commercial office building for the Wonderland area. A casino at Suffolk Downs is also being proposed. Other casinos are also reportedly being proposed in Middleborough, Palmer and Wrentham.

Heather Johnson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Deval Patrick, said the governor favors “destination, resort-style” casinos but opposes racinos -- racetracks that incorporate slot machines.

Gov. Patrick proposed a plan for casinos in 2007, but it was squashed by former speaker Salvatore DeMasi.

State Senate President Therese Murray also supports the resort-style casinos favored by Gov. Patrick, said her spokesman, David Falcone.

“It’s not just about gambling,” Falcone told The Pilot March 9. “It involves shops, restaurants, and retail -- things that, in terms of jobs, you get a lot more bang for the buck.”

However, while Saunders acknowledges that casinos would create short-term construction jobs, he says that the industry would have long-term negative effects on the state’s job climate.

He says casinos will harm local businesses such as restaurants with the lure of free food and hire already-trained workers from Connecticut, a state that has two destination casinos.

Saunders, along with MCC Public Policy Coordinator Kathy Davis, said the Church opposes the bill on other social grounds as well.

The bill will allow for “predatory gambling,” which Davis says is common with slot machines -- the main source of profit for casinos.

“They prey on human weakness for profit,” Davis said. “Players get a high when they’re playing. Everything is designed so scientifically, to draw players in and keep them there till their money is gone.”

Davis said that slot addiction can result in a rise in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, bankruptcy and home foreclosures.

“The whole family structure begins to fall apart,” Saunders said. “It’s the beginning of a downhill slide.”

In his Beacon Hill testimony, Saunders cited the United States International Gambling Report Series, a series of academic and government reports, which says that gambling costs taxpayers three dollars in social welfare expenditures for every dollar in revenue generated. Citing the same series, he also said that in areas with casinos, personal bankruptcies rose from 18 to 42 percent, the number of addicts doubled, and crime increased by 10 percent.

DeLeo acknowledged that gambling carries social ramifications in a statement submitted to The Pilot, promising to devote a portion of revenue generated from legalized gambling to addiction treatment programs.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has expressed concern over the proposed gambling expansion, calling for tougher laws against money laundering, organized crime, and wiretapping before Massachusetts legalizes casino gambling.

Les Bernal, Executive Director of Stop Predatory Gambling, and a parishioner at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, said that this issue differs from social gambling like office sports pools or charity bingo.

He also said that casino gambling violates the Great Commandment -- “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Casino ownership is about loving yourself more than your neighbor because its business practices are based on greed, deceit, and exploitation pushed on our neighbors,” he said.

“This is the only product or service where the people who own it and promote it don’t use it. What’s more predatory than that?” he added. “It’s going to push people into deeper poverty and it’s going to only worsen state budget deficits. The only winners are the people who own the casinos.”

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...