Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that will allow the introduction of online gambling to help ease the state’s financial woes, but the Pennsylvania Pastors Network says taking a chance on Internet gambling isn’t the answer.
The State Senate is currently looking at SB 900, a proposal that would allow existing casinos to add online gambling as well as offer alcohol 24 hours a day.
PPN President Sam Rohrer, who was an outspoken opponent of gambling during his 20-year career as a legislator, says using gambling as a way to fill the commonwealth’s coffers only hurts Pennsylvania families and already-struggling residents.
“Budget shortfalls can never be legitimately or ethically addressed with revenues that rely on an activity that feeds on people’s addiction to the allusion of ‘easy money,’” said Rohrer, who is also President of the American Pastors Network (APN, www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net).
“When civil government spends more than can be sustained by a healthy economy and reasonable taxes, it should be downsized to match the economy. Instead, when government leaders pursue revenue that preys on the vulnerable, the elderly and the addicted and calls it legitimate, it is a mark of failed and unethical leadership,” he continued. “Pursuing revenue from destructive activities such as gambling, and particularly Internet gambling, is nothing short of a race to the bottom. Leaders who praise such efforts only hasten the day when this commonwealth will lose forever the noble vision of a ‘Holy Experiment’ created by William Penn. Instead, this kind of selfish vision earns the label of an ‘Unholy Disaster. ’ All those in the Pennsylvania legislature are duty-bound to lead and inspire to greater aspirations, not stoop to the pragmatic prattling of people who wish for the satisfaction of a ‘temporary fix’ at the expense of long-term health.”
According to a report for Pennsylvania’s public radio stations, “Lawmakers have repeatedly looked to gambling expansions to plug budget holes. In 2013, they legalized tavern gambling, but the move failed to bring in estimated revenues when taverns were slow to sign up for licenses. Slot machine gambling was legalized in 2004 to reduce property taxes.”
Rohrer also cited 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (NIV).” Many pastors, he added, are grappling with these same issues in their churches, as parishioners struggle with gambling addictions.