Push for Casinos Intensifies in Virginia

Released: Thursday, October 25, 2018

Push for Casinos Intensifies in Virginia

By Eddy Aliff, Executive Director, Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists

October 24, 2018

Since September, I have been contacted by several pastors in Bristol, Virginia, who are concerned about a casino being built there. An article in the Bristol Herald Courier dated September 6 details how two local businessmen want to turn a vacant retail center into a casino, touting the increase in jobs and revenue to the area.

This part of the state truly has suffered financially due to loss of jobs and the decline of coal mining. But I believe the negative elements that typically come with casinos will not help Virginia. There are numerous casinos around Virginia—three in West Virginia, three in Maryland, one in Washington, DC, and six in Maryland! So, there is plenty of opportunity to visit a casino. And the biggest argument by Virginia state legislators, like Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, is that Virginians are taking a huge amount of money out of state to gamble so why not keep it here in Virginia. But according to an article in The Atlantic casinos are more likely to damage than to help the economy where they are located.

It is unfortunate but true that those who are most likely to gamble are those who can least afford it. Whether it be the lottery or other forms of gambling, poorer individuals are more strongly drawn to the hope of “hitting the jackpot” than those who have the disposable income and can afford to gamble. Keep in mind the adage: “The house always wins.”

Economic predictions for Colonial Downs never came close, so why does Virginia continue to back failure? Because too much has been invested into it by local governments. The same will happen with casinos in Virginia. And the greatest losers will be those middle- to low-income individuals who are betting against the odds to get out of their economic situations.

I appreciate those pastors who contacted me and are working to fight this effort to bring a casino to Bristol. I hope there is an outpouring throughout the state to stop casinos in Virginia, including the effort by the Pamunkey tribe to bring a casino to its area. My suggestion is for each of you to share your opposition with your state delegate and senator and ask your friends to do the same. If you need to know who your state representatives are, go to https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ (enter your address into the box at the top right).