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Pathological gambling affects everyone. This is not an illness that is battled alone. Everyone suffers the consequences from those who cannot control their gambling addiction. I have been a practicing Nurse Practitioner for the past 13 years. My experience has allowed me to see a multitude of patients with many different illnesses. Some of the most difficult patient cases are from those patients that cannot control their addiction. Each addiction has it's own consequence that the patient and family have to deal with. However, there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing the hopes of children squashed because their parent is a pathological gambler.

Many times I have encountered the adolescent teen who breaks down during the visit because she had hopes of getting a new pair of sneakers or some new jeans. All her hopes dashed away because her dad gambled his paycheck at Foxwoods. The teen may have wanted new clothes but now her concern is making sure she has food to eat.

Gambler's Anonymous helps, but it does not undue the permanent scar left on these children who look up to their role models for support and nurturing only to find their parent gone for the evening with a note saying "get your own dinner, I'll be home later".

Gambling addiction affects people like a stone thrown in the water, the ripple affect is felt along the shores. For our government to want to cash in on the vulnerabilities of others and promote addictive behavior for the sole purpose of filling it's coffers is wrong. Our government exists to protect us from harm, it is a scary thought to realize our own protector is actually our predator.

Jacqueline Tolosko RN, M.S.N, A.N.P.
(August 2009)

As a fifteen-year old high school student growing up in Florida, I had little opinion when I saw our local newspaper announce the construction of a full-scale resort casino in our town. It was a mostly white town of 22,000 residents with a median income exceeding $100,000.00 per year, and really thought this would never affect me. There had never been crime, there were seldom car accidents, and most of the middle and high school students were sent to prep school, preparing to go to the state or country's best universities. When the casino came in, everybody was worried about the neighborhood and casino capitalism taking over.

Though I had little opinion before its invasion, once the structure was built, I quickly realized my neighbors rational in trying to defeat this proposal. Our high school students flocked there by the hundreds. In fact, I had friends skipping school to go gamble. No, they weren't of age; they were procuring false identification to feed their growing habit.

The town's first fatal car accident also occurred in the first year that the casino was open. It is widely believed that the man, husband, and father who died was traveling home from the casino. It has been years since the casino opened. I am now in my mid-twenties and live in Boston, while my parents are suffering through the recession in Florida, a state that has many casinos, and is feeling the revenue pinch just the same as us up north.

Boston, MA
(August 2009)

When my mother learned that I opposed the Middleboro casino project, she told me about a distant relative who lived in a nearby town - a young married woman who wanted very much to have a baby. After a succession of expensive IVF treatments, the woman finally conceived - but the cost of the treatments left her and her husband financially strapped. One day, before going off to work, the woman, now pregnant, gave her husband the money to pay the monthly bills. However, instead of paying the bills, he drove to a Rhode Island casino in the hopes of winning enough money to get the couple back on their feet before the baby came. But he didn't win. He lost everything, including his hope, and killed himself before his wife got home.

About a year later, at a wake for my aunt, I found myself in conversation with a young woman balancing a toddler on her hip who mentioned in passing that she was a single mom. I remarked that child had her eyes, but she said no, he actually had his father's eyes. Later that evening I took my mother aside and asked her if that was the woman she'd told me about, and she told me it was.

They say that casinos cause problems as far as 50 miles away, and sadly, for many of us on the South Shore, with out-of-state casinos offering hope, 'a world at play' and 'the wonder of it all' only a 1 or 2 hour drive from home - it's proving true.

If we start putting slot parlors and casinos in Massachusetts, there'll be more children just like that little boy, growing up without a parent - except that now they'll also be on the North Shore, or on the Cape or out in Western Mass.

I realize now that it's not just 'entertainment', and I wonder why so many legislators and other decision-makers can't see it too. They're supposed to be making responsible decisions for all our citizens, not buying into the empty promises and excessive marketing and lobbying of the gambling industry whose bottom-line requires that people lose. And while it's true that some people may win, or not lose much - other people - like that little boy - lose everything.

No matter how tired I get of trying to educate people about slots and casinos, I only have to remember that little boy who has his father's eyes - because his father never got to see them - but mostly because I did.

Bridgewater, MA
(August 2009)

Claire and Henry lived in a modest house and never had children. Since they both worked and lived within their means, they were able to save for a comfortable retirement. They did some travelling and when Henry died, Claire was lured to her local Council on Aging because of her loneliness. Friends convinced Claire to come to Foxwoods with them on the bus. The cost was $25, but with the buffet ticket and the slot voucher, it seemed like it really only cost $5 for the day's trip.

The people at Foxwoods were so friendly and soon greeted her by name. They seemed really happy to see her and remembered personal details from her last visit. It didn't take long before the monthly visits weren't enough, so Claire began to drive to CT once a week and then daily.

Claire fed the slot machines her savings. Then she ran her credit cards to their limits and couldn't make the monthly payments. Someone suggested a Reverse Mortgage. Claire paid off her credit cards with the Reverse Mortgage and returned to her daily travels to Foxwoods. When she had exhausted the funds from the Reverse Mortgage, Claire faced homelessness at 82 years old. Friends helped Claire get into "public housing" where she has a small apartment and counts her pennies from her Social Security check. The apartment is small, so most of Claire's possessions, accumulated with Henry are gone.

What could have been a comfortable retirement is gone. When friends come to visit, Claire has to explain that her budget is so limited, they have to bring food and beverages with them. And the public that believes gambling provides entertainment for seniors is supporting a Senior whose dignity is gone.

Middleboro, MA
(August 2009)

I am originally from Massachusetts, and am totally opposed to the arrival of any casinos!!!!

I have been a parole officer in Connecticut for 20 yrs, and have been a direct witness to the deterioration of the state since the arrival of the 2 casinos: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Casinos here have only ruined the state with a huge/higher crime rate... CT still has a 515 million deficit and our government officials still don't know how to balance the budget for this yr and next yr.

Casinos only bring higher crime rates, and put a huge burden on more services such as more prisons, more police, medical etc... So the costs of these extra services far outweighs whatever instant gratification you get in cash from the "slots." You end up housing lots of people from other states (not even your residents!) in your prisons who are involved in casino related crimes (gambling addiction is very real and high here!). The CT governor is trying to convince the public here that crime is down, trying to justify why she closed down a smaller prison (in Webster, CT). Truth be told, the prison population has not decreased.. There are prisoners sleeping on the gym floors at particular facilities, and the gov has the parole board and corrections administrators giving early releases to many prisoners who are not appropriate for re-release into the community.

I have many parolees who have violated their parole multiple times (sometimes violating their parole for the 5th time, and are still being released anyway just to make space in prison for the incoming violators and new admits). So, as most of us veterans know, it's just a matter of time before we have another tragedy (like the Cheshire triple homicide).

Is this what the residents in mass want for their future? Are they so shortsighted that they don't see the dire end result of such a poor choice of bringing casinos in the beautiful state of Mass? There are so many college kids (sister colleges and Springfield college) within this region...how about creating a better plan of bringing some type of business to the area which will employ them (along with the locals) and keeping our young and talented people in the region? Maybe some kind of medical research facility, or entice Pratt and Whitney, Bowing, or GE to set up shop in Palmer...give tax incentives for these types of companies to set up shop in Mass. Governor Rell (of CT) isn't doing so hot in doing this (Pratt is trying to leave CT), so how about Governor Patrick getting with it and take advantage of this? Trust me, the residents in mass do not want to live with the type of crime that I deal with on a daily basis here in CT, as a parole officer. Mass people better wake up before it's too late... I am hoping that they will, because I would like to return home to Western Mass, upon my retirement, if it's still safe to do so!

I love that Mass has been so good (thus far) with the conservation of open space, and the environment. When I 1st moved to CT it was so much like western mass... Not anymore, due to poor leadership in our Governor (thus far), the emergence of casinos, and "need for more greed here..." thank you for your work in educating people about the truth of the impact of casinos, and in the fight to stop them from entering Massachusetts. Hopefully, Governor Patrick and others involved come to their senses!!! Look at New Jersey, Nevada...the crime, poor quality of life (at least for the common Joe)...is this what Mass folks want? Minimum wage jobs are considered "great jobs?" that's what's left after the construction work is done! The employees in CT fought so hard to become unionized, because the average pay in the casinos is piss poor! This is supposed to be a great plan??? Better off if we go back to farming...the pay is slightly better in farming, and we really need to be more self reliant in our food chain... Hey, it would keep the price of produce down, and the kids here would eat even better! Another idea much less crazy than casinos!!!

Thank you for doing the work that you do... Especially in educating people re: this issue...

(February 2010)

Dear Doers of Justice,

A silent storm may be brewing in Massachusetts. Because of the tough economic times we're in, legislators and other politicians are taking desperate measures to balance budgets, create jobs and stimulate the economy. One of the ideas that has been seriously considered, and still is a viable option for some is Casino Gambling.

The Massachusetts Council of Churches has been diligent in their witness in speaking against any legislative proposals which would expand gambling in the Commonwealth. The Council leadership is now urging concerned Christians to contact legislators to conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis. The Council, working in partnership with "United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts" www.uss-mass.org, is advocating such an analysis.

As people of faith, we need to be bold in our witness and oppose expanded gambling. The social costs will be very high - including increased addictions, broken families, higher crime rates, and more poverty.

As someone who has experienced the heartache of broken families and ruined lives because of the social fall out resulting from Casino gambling in other states where friends and family live, I would like to encourage you to contact your state senator and representative. Please ask them to take a lead in mandating the independent cost-benefit analysis of casino gambling.

Please share with me the feedback you get and I will pass it along to the Massachusetts Council of Churches.

Yours in faith,
Rev. Mark Seifried
MACUCC Interim Pastor and concerned citizen of God's Commonwealth
(February 2010)

Dear Rep. Dempsey and Members of the Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies,

I read the recent Globe article ("Gambling proposal may be gaining" 02.04.10) and I am adamantly opposed to casino gambling in Massachusetts.

Casinos will not solve our economic development problems. People and businesses are leaving Massachusetts because of the high cost of living NOT because we don't have casinos!

If you want to solve the economic issues in Massachusetts try expediting the permit process for housing construction to reduce cost; try finishing the State zoning reform to further reduce cost; how about promoting the bio-tech industry with the billion dollars promised by Governor Patrick; try mandating the GIC to reduce municipal burden; or how about tax incentives for businesses, small and large? Any one of these will produce better, longer lasting improvements to our state.

Further, casinos will absolutely hurt existing small businesses. How can a boutique spa/salon, restaurant or hotel compete with the marketing dollars of a full fledge resort-style casino? If you really want to gamble on State economics why not take out a life insurance policy on local businesses, their death will pay BIG once a casino rolls into town!

Please, do not support casino gambling in Massachusetts.

Thank you
Cambridge MA
(February 2010)