Bishops express their concerns about video poker

In concert with other members of the South Carolina Christian Action Council (SCCAC), Bishop David B. Thompson and Bishop Robert J. Baker issued the following statement concerning the gambling industry on Aug. 16. Below is the full text of the statement, however, excerpts from the following will be printed along with other statements by the SCCAC.

The Roman Catholic Church is not in principle against games of chance being played occasionally in family and social gatherings within reasonable limits. At this time, as gambling becomes big business in our beloved state, we are concerned about the detrimental effects it is having on the fabric of our society, particularly on our poorest citizens and those prone to addictions. They are likely to be the primary victims as gambling continues to become more popular in South Carolina. If gambling is to have legal status in our state, we urge legislation that will keep it strictly controlled and minimize its opportunities to expand.

We stand opposed to the major financing of any of the essential functions of our society from the proceeds of gambling. In particular, we offer our own sad experience with the game of bingo. For a time, some of our educational institutions allowed bingo to be enjoyed on their premises. Soon, there developed a tendency to depend on its profits as a major source of revenue to underwrite the ministries of these institutions. In allowing this to happen, we fell short of our responsibility as good stewards. We now have banned such regular and large-scale gambling at, or for the sake of, any of our institutions. We offer this experience for the benefit of all who now consider the future of gambling in our state.

We are pleased now to join the South Carolina Christian Action Council and its members, representing the great majority of Christians in our state, in an effort to regulate the gambling industry in South Carolina. In particular, we add our voices to that chorus of churches urging all our citizens to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1999, and to vote “NO” on the question: “Shall cash payoffs for credits earned on video game machines continue to be allowed after June 30, 2000?”