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Monday, September 30, 2013

Candidates too timid to speak out against gambling? You bet

Candidates too timid to speak out against gambling? You bet
Monday, September 30, 2013
By: Joe Fitzgerald

Sometimes it’s not what people say that reveals who and what they are; sometimes it’s what they don’t say.

And the candidates now prowling this city in search of support have been unconscionably mum on a bread-and-butter issue that strikes at the heart of the quality of life they claim to care so much about.

Gambling is every bit as addictive, destructive and ruinous to families as any lethal drug on the streets, yet where’s the candidate willing to invite wrath and ridicule by declaring the government not only has no business getting into bed with high-rolling hustlers, but also has a moral mandate to discourage the miseries they peddle?

It’s supposed to care about us, remember?

Isn’t that why smokers are taxed ruthlessly, and fines are imposed on those who fail to buckle up, and sugary drinks are banned from vending machines?

Yet gambling gets a pass from candidates who have opinions on everything else, but not a peep to say about wagering despite empirical evidence of its corrosive effect on the population.

Years ago, long before Massachusetts was seduced by the menacing lure of casinos, a downtown lawyer called to share some painful memories.

“Four of us were raised by my mother in the Mission Hill projects,” she recalled.

“She had such an addiction to gambling that most nights our supper consisted of one can of tomato soup mixed with three cans of water. To have a piece of bread was like having dessert. Breakfast was a rarity, and shoes and sneakers were replaced only when the nuns complained.

“We had a bad enough time with her betting on the Spanish and Irish street numbers, so you can imagine the impact on us when the Lottery was born. She could waste more of what little we had with the greatest of ease, thanks to the state.

“Today her addiction is scratch tickets. Where will it end? I hear politicians addressing drug addicts and drunk driving, but how about gamblers with hungry kids? Will they address that, too?”

Those now running certainly have the opportunity, but they’re letting their silence do their talking for them.

It really isn’t complicated. Gambling can wreck homes, marriages, careers and reputations. The money it generates is blood money, plain and simple. The only way casinos turn a profit is by encouraging desperate losers to sink even deeper into pits of despair.

This is how the commonwealth presumes to increase its revenue?

Please. Is there no one in the field with the fiber to suggest we ought to be traveling a higher road?

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