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Gambling a disease

Dear sir:

On Nov. 10, during the municipal election, we, the voters of Fort Frances, will be given the opportunity to stop the proliferation of gambling in Fort Frances. We will be asked if we support video lottery terminals (VLTs) and the establishment of a charitable gaming club in our community.

We, the undersigned, members of the Fort Frances Ministerial Association, are asking that you vote "no"--on charitable gaming clubs," and "no" on VLTs.

We are concerned about the stability of family life in our community. We are concerned with the crime rates in our community. We are concerned about small business in our community. In short, we are concerned about the quality of life in Fort Frances.

Charitable gaming club is such an altruistic name for a casino--a casino which could be open 24 hours a day, and which could house up to 150 VLTs and 40 gambling tables. A casino which will siphon money from the pockets of citizens of Fort Frances, from small business, and from community groups which rely on other forms of fundraising.

The government coffers will be the "big winner," not charities. With a breakdown which includes 10 percent for the for-profit business that runs the casino, two percent for programs for problem gamblers, 78 percent for the provincial government, and only 10 percent for charities (a small percentage of which will be earmarked for local charities), it is "double-speak" to call these charitable gaming clubs.

VLTs are dangerous. They have been called, by experts in the field of problem gambling, the "crack cocaine" of gambling. They are designed to entice the public to gamble large amounts, as well as their meagre winnings. The plebiscites in communities which have VLTs are now about ridding their communities of these dangerous "games of chance."

Gambling promotes an attitude that people do not need to contribute to the well-being of their community. The one who wins does so at the expense of the many who lose. The idea that a person can live on wits and luck, without giving anything in exchange, undermines our attitudes toward work.

Gambling is a disease. Like cancer, it spreads and multiplies, and infects society and its governments. Gambling increases policing costs, contributes to an increase in crime rates, and leads to the need for more social services. Gambling produces human desperation, and affects the stability of life in the family and the community.

Government-sponsored gambling undermines the social covenant of Canada. An equatable society is one in which those who can contribute a fair share for the public good do through progressive taxation and voluntary charitable giving. Those of us in the Christian tradition believe that gambling destroys our relationships with one another and God, and undermines our responsibilities toward one another.

On Nov. 10 say:

o"No" to charitable gaming clubs;

o"No" to video lottery terminals.

For the members of the Ministerial, I remain,

Yours very truly,

Rev. Mary Whitson,

Chairperson, F.F.

Ministerial Assoc.

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