For the second time a corporation from outside the northwestern U. S. is trying to build a casino in metropolitan Portland. Although the measure was overwhelmingly defeated two years ago, developers are counting on an expensive advertising blitz. The United Methodist Church’s long-standing opposition to gambling coincides with the position opposing the casino taken by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s (EMO), of which our annual conference is a member.
The United Methodist Church has long opposed gambling as a predatory, destructive influence in our society. Our social principles say in part: Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, destructive of good government and good stewardship (The Book of Discipline, Social Principles, para. 163G). The General Board of Church and Society website says: Gambling is a terrible example of stewardship of the resources God gives us; it creates social costs that are hidden and often do not become apparent until long after lotteries, casinos, betting parlors and game rooms have become entrenched in communities.
In regard to the casino proposed for Wood Village, The EMO voter’s guide says in part: the damage caused to families and communities by an activity that is inherently addicting for some individuals outweighs the limited benefits from government receiving a portion of casino revenue… Casino gambling, like state lotteries, largely depends on the high levels of gambling among problem gamblers… Passage [of these measures] would establish a dangerous precedent and would open the door to subsequent proposals to authorize additional casinos…
In opposition to a similar effort in Ohio three years ago, United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough said in part, "I am dismayed and outraged at this repeated, relentless and reckless effort to expand gambling in Ohio... The proponents, just like their predecessors, allege they want to operate casinos in order to help the citizens of Ohio. Nothing could be further from the truth. They promise economic development, jobs and millions in revenue. In reality, they are motivated by greed, not by good will... In reality, they are seeking extravagant profits, not stimulating sustainable productivity."
As you prepare to vote, you can find other background on the UMC’s positions against gambling at www.umc-gbcs.org/quotes/on-gambling
For more information about Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s efforts, contact Kevin Finney at firstname.lastname@example.org.