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Minnesota should not expand gambling

Gov. Mark Dayton and other misguided politicians and special interest groups are touting an expansion of gambling as a means of raising money to build a new stadium for the Vikings. But, what I offer here should be considered by all who will be called on to implement or authorize new gambling plans. The issue of gambling expansion is really, at its core, the ultimate political question of what the government's role is in a society.

Gambling is predatory. The odds of losing far outweigh the odds of winning, and the working-class are much more likely prey to the allure of gambling. A study by the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission shows that gamblers whose household incomes are less than $10,000 bet almost three times the amount as those who make more than $100,000. Should the government be in the business of preying on the poor decisions of those who have little to no disposable income? Is that the government's role?

Let's not forget about the revenue generated from gambling that government is quick to point out. But is it a net gain or a net loss? According to the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, gambling addicts cost society nearly $5 billion per year in social services, creditor losses and lost productivity. And gambling expansion only leads to more addicts.

Pathological gambling is a real problem facing individuals in our society. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that of the 125 million Americans that gamble at least once a year, 15 million are at risk of developing addiction while 7.5 million already have a gambling problem. Is it the government's role to enable already-addicted gamblers, breed more addicts all in the name of raising revenues? Revenues that, by many studies and reports, seem to consistently fall short of expectations.

This is a question of what the government's role is in society, and it is surely not the government's role to expand gambling. There are no winners when it comes to gambling. There are no winners in government-led gambling expansion.

-- Dennis Poppenhagen, Battle Lake