A 1992 Gallup survey found what researchers describe as a ''cooling off'' in the nation's enthusiasm for gambling. Only 40 percent approved of gambling in major cities, 64 percent agreed that gambling ''encourages people who can least afford it to squander their money,'' 62 percent believed it ''opened the door for organized crime,'' 58 percent thought gambling ''can make compulsive gamblers out of people who would never participate in illegal gambling.''
According to a 1990 study by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in 1988 there were approximately 50,000 pathological gamblers in Maryland and an additional 80,000 problem gamblers.
With casinos in Maryland, many of the problem gamblers would become pathological. Think of the families that would be destroyed.
Gamblers Anonymous reports 61 percent of its members have admitted to crimes, 28 percent were delinquent in paying Maryland taxes, 33 percent wrote bad checks, 37 percent stole money and 20 percent committed forgery.
In the first three years of legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, that city went from 50th in the country in per capita crime to first. After a dozen years, crime there has risen by 230 percent, requiring the city to increase its police budget by 300 percent.
More desirable employers will be scared away. In 1954, Howard Hughes was asked if he was planning to relocate his aircraft plant to the area. Hughes replied, ''No, the gaming casinos and ** never-ending supply of free whiskey to the gamers would make it highly impractical.
Especially if those gamers were employees of mine. I'm not about to compete with blackjack, craps, and the slot machines at their easy disposal.''
At last month's task force hearing, a casino lobbyist stated that jobs start at $10-$12 per hour. Oooh! Aaah! An Aug. 13 article in the Las Vegas Sun states, ''Yet wages in the service sector, which makes up 47.7 percent of employment, are typically lower than other industries' $6.50, $7.50, $8.50 an hour.''
Mr. Winterbottom said, ''The city and the state should look upon the gaming industry as they would any other industrial or business prospect.''
I agree, but how many other prospects ruin lives to the extent that casinos and riverboats do? Other than an open-air radioactive dump site, that is.
Please look past the glitter and hype and see what casinos will actually cost Maryland and, more importantly, Marylanders. Don't sacrifice people for profit.
Kimberly S. Roman