Letter to the Editor

The gambling chain reaction

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Seventeen years ago, Cape Girardeau first voted against -- then for -- a gambling boat. It was then painted as a romantic excursion on the river with limits to time and how much you could gamble. Despite the "positive" vote, Cape Girardeau was delivered from an industry based on greed, historically associated with crime and the underworld and directed toward extracting as much of your disposable income as possible.

Our state has made it legal, and our city council seems anxious to share in the money not obtained by taxes. Of course, there will be people that profit, but at what cost?

Proponents argue that people go elsewhere to gamble, why not come here? But studies show availability increases the number of people who gamble, and problem and pathologic gamblers double. A problem gambler doesn't just hurt himself. On average, eight other people suffer directly as a result of the gambler. Job loss, depression, divorce, crime and even suicide are all by-products of gambling.

Cape Girardeau has been described as "the prettiest girl at the dance." So she is. She is a prosperous city with a lot of promise for the future. She is virgin territory and as beautiful and intelligent as she is, she stands at risk because of her relative naivet and is targeted by an industry desiring to take advantage of her. It seems to me we ought to be trying to protect and preserve her.

Consider this: Is the profit to be gained really worth the risk of the losses to be had?

RICHARD A. MARTIN, M.D.,

Cape Girardeau