Mass Bishops Statement on Casino Gambling Legislation…Finally

Today, at long last, the Massachusetts Catholic bishops issued a statement regarding the issue of legalized casino gambling.  This statement comes, of course, almost two days AFTER the Massachusetts House voted in favor of the legislation.  The issue of gambling was known to the current MCC Executive Director, James Driscoll, as a “big issue” when he took the job in April.  So when do the bishops issue a statement?  After the horses have already raced out of the barn. The Mass Catholic Conference finally sent their alert out Tuesday afternoon asking people to contact legislators and the Governor, giving people precious little time to do so prior to the House debate and vote on Wednesday. 

Below is the statement from the bishops. BCI is glad to see at long last they came out with such a statement. People should definitely contact their state senators and the Governor to try and stop the legislation from going forward. And pray that the legislators will see the light of day before giving this their final approval.


For Immediate Release

DATE:   September 16, 2011


James F. Driscoll
Executive Director, Massachusetts Catholic Conference

Today, the issue of expanded gambling within the Commonwealth has once again come to the forefront of the public arena.  We, the four bishops of the four dioceses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, again feel compelled to oppose the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts.

We understand that these are difficult times for many families within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The unemployment rate remains high, currently at 7.4% percent, thousands of families continue to rely upon state assistance to survive, and more and more people are facing the harsh realities of poverty.  Naturally, the state is searching for new ways to increase revenue and create jobs aimed at meeting these difficult challenges and to bring about economic stimuli.  However, expanded gambling in the form of slot parlors and casinos is an illusory solution to this complicated problem.   If anything, expanded, predatory gambling will only add to the need for state assistance in the Commonwealth. 

While the Catholic Church views gambling as a legitimate form of entertainment when done in moderation, the gaming legislation opens the door to a new form of predatory gaming which threatens the moral fabric of our society.  We are concerned that the Commonwealth’s reliance on gambling revenue continues to escalate.  This reliance upon an unstable form of revenue, which has been shrinking in other states, would depend upon those who are addicted to gambling, many of whom are already among the ranks of the poorest in the community. 

Many of our churches, schools, and other non-profit organizations rely upon bingo and other games-of-chance for relatively small amounts of revenue.  We hope the citizens of the Commonwealth will recognize the difference between a local fund-raiser managed by volunteers and a multi-billion dollar industry that exploits vulnerable members of the community for financial gain. 

The gambling industry can threaten local business and change the entire make-up of communities.  If Massachusetts were to pass the proposed gambling legislation and open the door for casinos and slot parlors in our state, it could diminish our rich heritage and history as a Commonwealth.  There is too much at stake for Massachusetts to open the door to expanded gambling. 

We urge the Massachusetts State Senate not to follow the lead of their colleagues in the House of Representatives, but vote against the expansion of predatory gambling. 

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Archbishop
Archdiocese of Boston

Most Rev. George W. Coleman, Bishop
Diocese of Fall River

Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, Bishop                                                       
Diocese of Springfield

Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Bishop
Diocese of Worcester

15 Responses to Mass Bishops Statement on Casino Gambling Legislation…Finally

  1. Warren Memlib says:

    Another “for the record” statement from the MCC?

  2. Boston Blackey says:

    Maybe I am not reading this letter correctly but I soo no mention of morality anywhere. Massachusetts has the country’s highest participation in its state lottery and there has been no letter addressing this “form of predatory gaming ” I wonder if the Bishops have really watched at a local BINGO game: the admission cost, the cost of scratch tickets, etc. Local BINGO games may not be comparable to Foxwoods but these games are not nickle and dime operations. Either you are for gaming or you’re not. It seems to be two-faced to say that your gaming is predatory while our gaming is just harmless fun.

  3. jbq2 says:

    Very good! There is right and wrong and finally a group of bishops is saying that this is so! Factories are shutting down and being replaced with gambling. Factories produce goods and services. Gambling only reshuffles these same goods and services.

  4. BobofNewtn says:

    Too little to late in terms of the Bishops’ entreaties. Bingo revenue will tank and, instead, we will see an increase in jobs and tax revenues and that is the way the Legislature sees it. Frankly, that is the way the vast majority of people want it.

    The Bishops cannot rally the masses with that one.

  5. Warren Memlib says:

    His Eminence and the MCC are coming out early against “Massanasia” (euthanasia in Massachusetts):

    Cardinal rips suicide ballot effort
    By Kathy McCabe / Globe Staff / September 19, 2011

    Catholic Bishops Oppose “Death with Dignity” Initiative Petition
    Massachusetts Catholic Conference Media Release, September 7, 2011

  6. bitsnbytes says:

    Well, if the bingo revenues go down, the parishes will finally get rid of it.

  7. Fr, D says:

    Its hard to place yourself as the pot calling the kettle black. BINGO anyone?

  8. Janny says:

    I fail to see in ANY way how casinos can be assumed to be predatory…any more than grocery stores selling wine can be said to be predatory on alcoholics. If you’ve got a problem gambling, you get help with it, you go to a 12-step group, you STAY AWAY from casinos, just like people with problems with alcohol go to AA and STAY AWAY from bars. But this kind of knee-jerk (and I do mean “jerk”) reaction is so typical of the Church of today…whose hierarchy has totally bought into the “victim” mentality of our culture. If I have a problem with something, it’s YOUR responsibility to protect me from myself and not offer it. Isn’t it about time that we all grow up and start accepting responsibility for our own issues and decisions? What utter nonsense. Banning gaming because it destroys some people is like banning cars from the road because some people drive recklessly. It’s missing the forest for the trees…but then, what else can we expect from most bishops’ groups today, who tend to usually be a day late and at least $20 short?

    • qclou says:

      I do agree with Janny about self corrective behavior for people with an ‘addiction’. It does seem as though our society tends to not advocate self-control to prevent problems. nevertheless, I believe the legislative bills include funding for support for those who need it. I agree with legalizing gambling in MA for no other reason than seeing the number of MA license plates in the lots at the CT casinos. Let’s support tight controls on the gaming industry, keeping organized crime out of the industry while insuring that the taxpayers and local communities impacted by the traffic, etc. are well taken care of. Anyone been to Las Vegas [ also known as ‘lost wages’ ] lately?? among the highest unemployment rates in the USA as well as highest foreclosure rates.
      OTOH, I wonder how the collections are doing at St. Micheal’s in LV??

      hopefully the increased tax revenues will be used as intended to further strengthen our public school systems to maintain our state as the best in the USA in math and science !

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Fantastic, insightful, and accurate post, Janny. Thank you.

  9. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    What courage, what daring! Come out against Casino gambling!
    I can’t wait until the Pequots go on the war path about it…

    Yes, gaming is a huge concern for me as a Catholic, I positively hate waiting in line to buy milk at the quick mart.

    Meanwhile in the real Catholic world the pro-life movement personified in Fr. Pavone gets a knife in the back…BY A BISHOP!

    An interesting article from the enemy side on the matter…note the last paragraph and really the punch line of the whole scuffle.

    Note well Re; Priest For Life organization
    “The executive director made $95,394, and the vice chairman of the board made $162,253 that year.”
    Reminder: The head of the catholic school system here that essentially runs it self makes more than 2 X the vice chairman of the board of Priest For Life.
    Keep those absurdity hits keep coming!

    • Michael says:

      I understand your concern over Mary Grass ONeill making an unconscionable salary. Point noted … several times on this blog and elsewhere. BUT the president of American Right to Life makes a salary of $0.00! Why? Because he does not want pro-life ministry to be a career. So many people have made massive salaries on the deaths of the unborn and have made ZERO progress.

      Regarding Fr. Pavone, he is fighting back in a way that will probably get him rendered completely ineffective. He is fighting to protect his own mission the way our pro-life groups fight to protect the unborn. Not sure, but Fr. Corapi looks like he is fighting the witch-hunt in a far more effective (yet controversial) way. I think the difference in the two approaches are quite interesting and time will tell which approach helps which priest (Pavone or Corapi) to be a more effective servant of Christ.

      • Boston Catholic Insider says:

        The topic of this post is the Mass Bishops’ statement on casino gambling legislation.

        BCI is very supportive of pro-life work and those who work to protect the lives of the unborn, but the situation of Fr. Pavone at Priests for Life is a rather far stretch from the topic of this post. Likewise, the situation of Fr. Corapi is rather far from our topic in this post. Please keep your comments pertinent to just the topic of the post, otherwise they will be moderated.

  10. Fr. Bill says:

    Wouldn’t you like a clear report on the finanancial report on the prriests’ appreciation dinner?

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