Thursday, January 19, 2012

Church group opposes D.C. gambling

Mayor Vincent Gray
The Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20004

Dear Mayor Gray,

        The Council of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations wants to express to you its unanimous opposition to any implementation of internet gambling in the city (as discussed and determined at its meeting of Dec. 15, 2011).

        The concerns are several. First, the expansion of gambling activities in the city is not considered to be productive for strengthening the lives of local residents and advancing their well-being and the public's overall safety. It is unclear what lasting and meaningful economic benefit will accrue to D.C. residents from this proposal, and indeed, may well result in the contrary. While new revenues and fees will likely be generated for the D.C. government, many congregations and their clergy and pastoral staff are aware of the deleterious, and  often tragic impacts gambling can have on the lives of those who become addicted to it. The city government should be putting its efforts and resources into more tangible initiatives to bring jobs to the city for local residents. The need for increased city revenues is understood but other means should be undertaken to achieve that goal.

        Further, there is significant concern over how this initiative has reached this point and as to whether there has been adequate public input into the proposal. It is quite appropriate that the City Council will be holding a public hearing on this matter on January 26th in order to hear from the public, and hopefully provide a better explanation of all of its ramifications, who are the stakeholders, and how the proposed venture will impact the city.

        Your goal to increase city revenues is understood and appreciated, as are your efforts to expand economic opportunities for District residents and businesses. Expansion of gambling  - specifically internet gambling - is not the way to build safer and better neighborhoods.

Terrance Lynch
Executive Director

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