Letter to the Editor
by Jim Roach
Director of Research
Gambling Research Information & Education Foundation

Dear Editor,

I am writing to caution Missourians about the possibility of increased gambling in our state.

Currently, the state Senate is considering removing Missouri's $500 loss limit. An individual is barred from losing more than $500 at a casino in a two-hour period. Due to Missouri's budget crisis, some senators feel dropping this rule is a painless way to remedy our shortfall. This is a terrible idea.

The loss limit was an idea originally proposed by the casinos to safeguard against problem gambling. Why would they now support a measure that leaves problem gamblers with no safety net? Are there no more problem gamblers?
A problem gambler "often seeks funds from others only when his or her personal funds have been exhausted. After other legitimate sources are tapped, the problem gambler may consider seeking money from illegal sources," according to a recent Nevada study. It is estimated gambling costs all Missouri taxpayers more than $13,000 per problem gambler in yearly social costs.

Removing the loss limit would not improve the economy. According to an independent 2003 Michigan study, increasing gambling actually increases the strain on a local economy. The more money lost at a casino means the less money spent at the local supermarket, movie theater, or on school supplies for children. It reallocates revenue, rather than generating additional money for the state.

Dropping the loss limit preys upon vulnerable gamblers, and would not effectively improve Missouri's economy. These facts cannot be disputed. The costs are too great, and we should not do this.

Jim Roach
Ellisville, Mo.
Director of Research
Gambling Research Information & Education Foundation