Problems with gambling


I am responding to the recent editorial by my friend, Sean Morgan, calling for social gaming to be allowed in Sweet Home. The article was usual for Sean, well written and rationally presented. However, I believe its suppositions and conclusion were wrong.

Gambling is not a victimless activity. Its victims are multifaceted. The person involved in the activity too frequently is succumbing to an addictive compulsion. Further, too often those that participate can’t afford even the so called “small” entry fee, spending money that should be directed toward rent, food or other requirements of their household.

The editorial makes an intellectual jump to a conclusion when it states, “If the council discovers no link between social gambling and heavier call loads for police, it should allow social gambling outright.” While an increased load on the police would be a significant negative indicator, the lack of it is not a positive indicator. It is at most, a neutral indicator, one that weighs into a decision but is not the sole determinant.

The article is dismissive of the moral aspect of this councilor’s concern; stating that, “this time around, the morality issue seems not to be in play,” and concluding that making decisions based on moral concerns is, “not the council’s place.”

I strongly disagree and ask if not the council’s responsibility to preserve the quality of life in this community, then whose?

Further, it is every citizen’s responsibility to preserve the moral quality of their community which means I am doubly charged as a citizen and as a councilor to work to assure that decisions are not made that negatively impact the quality of life and moral character of our, community.

To that end, I have to ask a number of questions. What benefit does allowing social gaming bring to Sweet Home? I can’t see that it benefits any businesses other than those that hold the events. In this case a single tavern and its owner. There isn’t much ancillary business benefit for other proprietors in town.

Next, what positive benefit will such an activity have on the community? Sorry, I can’t think of any. On the other hand, I’ve already noted several negative. Add to these the destruction that increased access to gambling is wreaking upon all Oregon families (see the front page article in the Sunday, Feb. 25, Democrat Herald) and the small step of allowing just one more of these “victimless crime” activities doesn’t seem so sensible.

The issue comes down to quality of life in Sweet Home. We are endeavoring to recover from the devastating effects of the loss of timber jobs. It has been a long slog but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The recreational offerings of this area are becoming more and more popular, contributing to a record increase in the number of new residences approved for development and receiving building permits. These are family residences by and large. These families are coming here not to have mom or dad run off to gamble but to enjoy the pristine benefits of our area including a clean, family friendly environment where their kids can grow up.

Further, if we allow one business in town to host gambling tournaments and it proves to be a success then what will other businesses in town do? They have an equal right to do the same. So they hold events. But it doesn’t stop there.

One business seeks an advantage over another so they push the envelope on allowed activities in association with the game and add advertising to spread the word about why their offering is better than the others.

Next they want to get away from the implied agreement that they won’t offer drinks to tournament participants during their play. They also seek to get income from those that come with their poker playing partner and set up video poker, black jack or other legal games. This spiral of increase will not be stopped nor abated.

Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done.

Although this request to legalize gambling in our town is wrapped up in the seemingly innocent title of “social gaming,” it is a request to start a process that ultimately leads to other previously prohibited activities. It is in consideration of the ramifications of such an action that I stand on moral ground and say, “No!”

Sweet Home does not need this activity. In Sean’s article he encouraged citizens to call their councilors. I do the same. Call my fellow councilors or better yet, come to the council session and let us know that Sweet Home has enough troublesome issues to work through without adding fuel to the fire by allowing this destructive activity.

Rich Rowley

Sweet Home City Councilor