by Former State Representative Cynthia Davis
December 19, 2011 Editorial
The insatiable interests of the State and the gambling brokers have found a way to entice addicted gamblers back to the casinos. A non-elected commission with no accountability to the public made a decision this month allowing those who voluntarily chose to put themselves on a lifetime exclusion list to get back onto the casinos after five years.
The nature of addictive behavior is that the addict will always have a propensity to return to the destructive behavior. The only “cure” is to avoid those situations entirely. An alcoholic cannot return to being a “social drinker”. A drug addict cannot limit his drugs to whatever the family budget will allow. A smoker cannot just have one cigarette a day. They have to make the choice to avoid situations that feed their addictions for the rest of their lives.
Addicted gamblers are part of a tremendous social problem in our society. How many? In Missouri, the list currently has over 16,000 people whose behavior was serious enough to make them want to place themselves on a lifetime list to be banned from the casinos. Usually the person will not put himself on the list until the problem has escalated to a proportion where the family is breaking apart, a bankruptcy looming or other desperate measures are required to try to make up for the damage or destruction that already occurred.
One report estimates that over 11,000 of these gamblers could be let back on the casinos because the Missouri Gaming Commission thinks the behavior that already brought them to the brink of financial suicide isn’t that serious..
Everyone concerned with preserving marriages, helping the poor and taking care of those with destructive addictions should be asking questions. We also need to be demanding that the governor, who appoints the members of the gaming commission, also be asked why. Is the state so broke that we have to prey on the addictions of people who made the choice to voluntarily ban themselves from the casinos?
Addictive behavior is very difficult to break. My heart goes out to any families who are affected by a family member addicted to alcohol, drugs, pornography, cigarettes or gambling. In the end, these addictions end up costing a great deal of money, embarrassment, heartaches and heartbreaks for all involved. The resulting loss of jobs, stable families, increased medical costs and higher rates of suicide are simply not worth whatever money this move is supposed to generate.