Dear Editor:

WELCOME, NEW RESIDENT:

Addiction! Crime! Traffic! Falling Property Values! Economic Inequality!

Sound appealing?

If so, then join the army of local officials regurgitating rank propaganda from the casino industry and unthinkingly support a “mini-casino” here in Shippensburg.

A robust body of social science data have demonstrated what the common-sense experience of many Americans illustrates that casinos:

-- Benefit the few at the expense of the many, leading those who can least afford to squander funds like the vulnerable elderly – to hand over limited income, while bureaucrats in state capitals like Harrisburg and out-of-town “high rollers” extract most of the revenue and profits from host communities;

-- Profit by undermining precisely the virtue-centered habits -- prudence, discipline, moderation -- on which many local citizens have built their lives; and

-- Operate as “all-consuming environments,” meant to capture -- and exhaust -- the time and money of customers, thereby denying to other local businesses the overflow economic benefits that casino executives cynically tout to win local support;

-- Further, tax revenue purportedly extracted from casino profits -- often simply at the expense of taxes raised by more-socially advantageous consumer spending -- will be cold comfort to the many local social service providers whose resources will be overwhelmed by the well-documented sewer of social ills -- increases in addiction, bankruptcies, family breakdown and crime -- that reliably flow from, and so wash away the purported economic benefits of, casinos.

Nor would local property owners avoid the gusher of casino-supplied slime:

-- The impact of casinos on neighboring property values, concluded a 2013 report by the National Association of Realtors, “is unambiguously negative.”

As many local citizens including leaders of the Mennonite community have persuasively argued, Shippensburg is a charming, quiet community, invigorated by the cornerstone values of faith, family and fraternity that my wife and I, like so many other residents, have come to cherish. A mini-casino would emphatically erode, not support, these crucial values.

For millennia, deathbed-embraced truths have enriched our understanding of ourselves, crystallizing in our minds the commanding wisdom that love and virtue are the essence of well-lived lives, and the sooner we know it, the better.

But there is no old adage about a man on his deathbed lamenting time not spent with a slot machine.

Let the casino industry roll the dice elsewhere.

My claims are supported by the following articles:

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