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Adventists Urge Marylanders to Vote “No” to Gambling

By Taashi Rowe

With the upcoming elections Maryland residents have slot-machine gambling on their minds. And so do Seventh-day Adventists who reside in the state. On the ballot will be Question 2, which asks residents to support changing the state’s constitution to allow for thousands of slot machines. Several Adventists who are against the measure recently attended a forum held by the grassroots group Marylanders United to Stop Slots. The forum, held at Columbia Union College (CUC) in Takoma Park, Md., included speakers like comptroller Peter Franchot (D), Ron Wylie of the Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington, community activist Erwin Mack, and John Gavin, chair of CUC’s Social Work department.

Increasing education funding, preventing tax increases, and keeping Maryland gamblers in the state are reasons gambling advocates say Marylanders should support the measure. However, Comptroller Franchot rebuffs those reasons. “This will cost the state far more overall to clean up the consequences of gambling than we could ever get from slots revenue. For every dollar that we get from slots we will have to pay out three dollars to treat increased addiction, crime, domestic abuse, and bankruptcy.”

Wiley said unfortunately slots would increase business at his facility which helps low income people. “This is an issue that is going to bring havoc and regret to a lot of people. This will tear down the very people this is supposed to help,” he said.

For some there is no argument strong enough to justify voting for the measure. In a statement against gambling, http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main_stat49.html, leaders at the Adventist world church headquarters say “gambling violates Christian principles of stewardship.”

“This is an issue of faith,” said Teddy Smith, a nondenominational pastor in his devotional at the forum. “We as God’s people need to pull together and set an example for our children so they can see that we stand for what is right even in times of hardship.”

Adventist Review associate editor Roy Adams, a member of Potomac Conference’s Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., wrote in a May 22 column: “It’s unconscionable when governments seek to balance their budgets by destroying the lives of the most vulnerable of their citizens, leading many into dependency and addiction. No voting Adventist in Maryland can in good conscience refuse to stand up and be counted this November.”