HARTFORD (02/22/2016) -- In a new edition of Vantage Point released today, Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi welcomed former Congressman Robert Steele for a discussion of casino expansion. The costs of casino gambling, said Steele, exceed the economic benefit by as much as three times. Debt, addiction, broken families, crime, and other attendant social costs overwhelm the gains of new jobs and economic activity.
Last year, Connecticut's General Assembly approved a process toward establishing a new, third casino in the state. Unlike Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, built on lands of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indian nations respectively, the new facility would be built on lands subject to state gaming law, and would be operated by a new private consortium co-owned by the two tribes. As a result, the state would need to change its laws to permit a commercial casino in the state.
"There are multiple places to intervene in this process," said Steele. He urged citizens to educate themselves, and then to reach out to their state Senators and Representatives. In the Senate, the vote to set the process in motion passed by only four votes. Educate your legislators, said Steele, to "understand the impact, and we think that if you do, you will not vote to expand gambling in Connecticut."
The former Congressman and long-time resident of Ledyard has seen the effects of casino gambling close up. He recently published the novel The Curse: Big-Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town, a fictionalized account of southeastern Connecticut's experience. Though several non-fiction works have considered that history, said Steele, he hoped to use fiction to tell the story in a new and compelling way.
The Conference's Legislative Advocate, Michele Mudrick, will be working diligently to inform legislators and connect them with their constituents. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Associate Conference Minister for Proclamation, Identity, and Communication for the Connecticut Conference UCC.