While budget woes and out-of-control spending in Pennsylvania continue to make headlines, state lawmakers are desperately looking for ways to combat the $2.3 billion shortfall, as the budget stalemate stretches into more than 100 days.
But building up gambling in the state is not the answer, says the Pennsylvania Pastors Network Executive Director, Dr. Gary Dull. “We appreciate that leaders are making efforts not to raise taxes for hard-working Pennsylvanians. But adding more gambling options in the state is an immoral approach. The far-reaching effects that gambling has on the culture steal so much from citizens, families and seniors who are embroiled in gambling addictions, even while on a fixed income.”
Some of the proposed options already introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature, according to an editorial in the Reading Eagle, include:
- Allowing casinos to serve liquor 24 hours a day in exchange for a $5 million licensing fee. Currently, casinos cannot serve alcohol between 2 and 7 a.m.
- A $10 million licensing fee for online gambling and a $5 million licensing fee to place slot machines in off-track betting parlors.
- The legalization of sports betting in the commonwealth, which would allow slot machines in Pennsylvania’s six international airports: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and Erie.
Churches and pastors should be charged with keeping the issue of gambling at the forefront, Dull added. “Society must continue to be educated on the vices of gambling,” he said.
In addition to the damage gambling does to Pennsylvania families, gambling initiatives often just don’t pay off. According to the Reading Eagle, “two years ago, when Pennsylvania legalized gaming in bars, backers said the move would generate about $150 million a year. Last year it raised less than 0.4 percent of that amount, $554,000, according to state figures.”