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Hidden costs of gambling borne by society

To the editor:

The Post-Dispatch recently carried a disturbing article in the business section.

Why was it disturbing? Maybe the headline will give you a clue. "Harrah's, Ameristar rake in the revenue.''

I don't know about you, but it is very disturbing to me that in the month of October these two casinos took in $21.8 million each. This figure represents their gross receipts or total bets minus total payouts.

If you believe the billboards that brag how much people win on the boats, do you think that they must have taken in as much as $30 million or more? Thirty million dollars or more? It staggers the mind to think that that much money is leaving the area's businesses each month.

The article goes on to say that the 11 casinos in Missouri took in $112,300,000 in October. Could the casinos be one of the reasons why the economy is so bad? Other businesses at least give you a product or a service for your hard-earned cash, what product or service do we receive from casinos?

The owners will tell you that their taxes support our schools. Do you believe that?

The awful truth is that casinos don't mention all the hidden costs that result from their operations — more police protection, more embezzlements, more bankruptcies, more robberies, more broken homes, more litigations, more court costs, and finally more incarceration costs.

Where does that money come from? From the taxpayers — all of us. Gambling can be fun if done in moderation, but when it gets to be an addiction — and the number of people who have this addiction is growing rapidly, an estimated 60,000 Missourians — then this is no longer fun but a tragedy.

The Missouri Gaming Commission has said that there is a market for another casino in the south county area, and representatives of the Casinos are going to present their proposals to the St. Louis County Economic Council's Selection Committee later this month.

Do you think we need another casino in our area to take away more of our wages?

How long before we wake up to the real economics of gambling and its effect on our society?

Speak up and let the Missouri Gaming Commission hear that they are taking us down the road to more trouble.

Ruth Speh


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