HARTFORD (03/08/2016) -- In a message to United Church of Christ leadership around the state today, Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi reasserted the long-standing position of the Conference against casino gambling. With the possibility that the General Assembly may consider a concrete proposal to authorize a commercial casino, says Legislative Advocate Michele Mudrick, all voices need to be raised so that legislators will hear of the opposition.
Rev. Siladi asked church leaders to call or write their own representatives and to encourage church members and friends to do the same. A year ago, a Quinnipiac University poll revealed that three quarters of the state's representatives oppose adding a third casino — which did not stop legislators from approving a process leading to precisely that.
Last year's bill received only a four vote majority in the state Senate, offering a window of hope for changing minds and hearts, says Mudrick. Today's message is part of her pledge to keep UCC leaders in the state informed about the status of the approval process, and to call for letters and phone calls when legislators have a bill before them. She believes the third casino can be stopped.
"We can win this," she declares.
Today's message follows in full:
Dear Faith Leaders,
We need your help to stop another casino from being built in Connecticut. The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ is leading this effort.
Casinos profit when people lose their money. Casinos derive their revenue disproportionally from low wage workers, minorities, the elderly, the mentally ill, and the disabled, thereby contributing to economic and social inequality. There is no justice in using addictive gambling machines to obtain revenue from these most vulnerable populations.
The short-term benefits from a casino would be heavily outweighed by its longer-term economic and social costs. Some proponents of casinos say they will bring new jobs, profits, and tax revenue — and they do — but those jobs, profits, and revenue will be overwhelmingly funded by the gambling losses of Connecticut residents. The gambling addictions encouraged by casinos lead to debt, bankruptcies, broken families, and crime, which consume economic gains. According to a landmark report from the Institute for American Values, local and regional casinos drain wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses, hurt property values, reduce civic participation, imperil family stability, and impair other forms of social capital that are the heart of a successful community.
The state needs to focus on things that build up — rather than tear down — our communities.
The Connecticut Conference has several resolutions in opposition to expanded gambling, and since we are the leaders working on this issue, we are building a Coalition Against Casino Expansion in Connecticut. It is made up of several religious denominations as well as civic organizations, and we are looking for many other groups to join the Coalition.
Two things you can do to help:
- Please inform your congregation about this issue and please write, call, or meet with your legislators — and encourage your congregation members to do the same — to oppose another casino in Connecticut. Michele Mudrick is available to attend any legislator meetings.
- Reach out to Michele Mudrick if you or any members of your congregation are interested in learning more or getting involved in the Coalition Against Casino Expansion in Connecticut.
Please reach out to Michele Mudrick at email@example.com or call or text her at 860.796.3822 to let her know what State Representatives and what State Senators you contacted. Michele is keeping track of this.
Let us put our faith into action. Your voice counts! Thank you for your support and taking the time to act.
Rev. Kent Siladi
The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Associate Conference Minister for Proclamation, Identity, and Communication for the Connecticut Conference UCC.