Conference Urges Opposition to Casino Expansion in Connecticut

4/8/2015

HARTFORD (04/08/2015) -- In a message to church leaders last night, Conference Minister the Rev. Kent J. Siladi and Legislative Advocate Michele Mudrick recommended they reach out to state legislators to oppose licensing for three additional casinos in Connecticut. "We believe that the expansion of casino gambling in Connecticut is the wrong choice for the people of Connecticut and for the members of our congregations," they wrote in the message to authorized ministers and lay church leaders. "Thank you for putting your faith in action!"

The call comes in response to the progress of Senate Bill 1090, An Act Concerning Gaming, which could authorize up to three new licenses for casinos to be operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe or the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut. Delegates to the Connecticut Conference have repeatedly voted to oppose legalized gambling in the state, with resolutions in 1977, 1979, and 1994. The 1994 resolution specifically calls for legislation against casino gambling, and the following year delegates voted to oppose construction of a casino in Bridgeport.

While a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 75% of the state's voters oppose new casinos, Michele Mudrick has found relatively few organizations have actively challenged S.B. 1090. "We need our voices to be heard," she urges.

The message to church leaders includes text for them to use in a church bulletin insert, mailing to members, or newsletter. She asks those who call or write their legislators to also notify her, so that she can keep track of their responses.

The full message from Rev. Siladi and Ms. Mudrick follows:

Please Speak Out on Expanded Casino Gambling in Connecticut

Dear Leaders of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ,

There is a bill before the Connecticut General Assembly that needs your attention - Senate Bill 1090: An Act Concerning Gaming. In this bill, the General Assembly is considering whether to issue up to three casino gaming facility licenses to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut so they can act jointly to establish and operate up to three new casino gaming facilities in the state.

We believe that the expansion of casino gambling in Connecticut is the wrong choice for the people of Connecticut and for the members of our congregations. We are inviting you and your members to get involved in this very important issue.

Prayerfully consider the following:

  • Delegates to the Connecticut Conference have on three separate occasions (1977, 1979, and again in 1994) adopted resolutions opposing the expansion of gambling in our state;
  • Adding additional casinos could increase pathological, compulsive and addictive gambling;
  • According to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, 6% of the population of Connecticut meet the criteria for problem or pathological gambling, with women, the poor, and ethnic minority groups among those at greatest risk;
  • The long term social costs and ill effects of expanded gambling outweigh any short term financial gain;
  • A recent Quinnipiac University poll released on March 11, 2015, discovered that three in four Connecticut voters oppose having more casinos in Connecticut; and
  • While there are individuals opposed to adding more casinos, the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ may be the only faith-based organization in the state, and possibly the only organization in Connecticut, that opposes the expansion of casino gambling at this time.

What we are asking you to do:

  • Call or email your State Representative and State Senator now and urge them to OPPOSE Senate Bill 1090 which would expand gambling in the state and suggest to your congregation to do the same. Visit http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp# to find your Legislator's contact information.
  • Michele Mudrick, the Connecticut Conference's Legislative Advocate, will be following up with key State Representatives and State Senators; please email Michele at michelem@ctucc.org or text or call her at 860.796.3822 to let her know if you contacted a legislator so that she can follow up.
  • Please put a note in your weekly bulletin and newsletter asking your congregation to make phone calls or send emails to their legislators now expressing their opposition to the expansion of casino gambling.

Some sample text you can use in your weekly bulletin and newsletter is:

The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ is asking us all to call or email our State Representative and State Senator now to urge them to oppose Senate Bill 1090, which could add up to three additional casinos in our state. While there are individuals opposed to adding these casinos, the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ may be the only faith-based organization in Connecticut, and possibly the only organization, opposing this expansion of casino gambling, so we need our voices to be heard. Delegates to the Conference voted Resolutions in 1977, 1979, and 1994 opposing expanding gambling in Connecticut. You can find your legislator at http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp#

When you call or email, if possible, give your name and the town where you live, and let them know that you oppose Senate Bill 1090: An Act Concerning Gaming. You can also say "with gambling expansion and access come increases in problem gambling, and there needs to be more focus on the ill effects and social costs of gambling, not just the financial gain". After you make your calls or send your emails, Michele Mudrick, the Connecticut Conference Legislative Advocate, will be keeping track of what State Representatives and State Senators were contacted, so please email Michele at michelem@ctucc.org or text or call her at 860.796.3822 to let her know what legislators you contacted that would be helpful.

Thank you for putting your faith into action!

Blessings to you,

Kent Siladi, Conference Minister
Michele Mudrick, Legislative Advocate

The Rev. Kent J. Siladi is Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference UCC. Michele Mudrick is Legislative Advocate for the Connecticut Conference UCC. The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Associate Conference Minister for Proclamation, Identity, and Communication for the Connecticut Conference UCC.