Court Ruling A Chance To 'Banish Casinos From Our State'

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Nearly four years ago, I wrote a guest column for the state's largest newspaper headlined "Gambling in Arizona is illegal, so close down the casinos." (The Arizona Republic, Sept. 21, 1997).

No one was listening then, but a few more people are paying attention now that U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield has issued a ruling affirming what we've been saying all along Indian tribes are not entitled to conduct any type of gambling on their reservations that is not allowed elsewhere in the state.

If there is one thing made abundantly clear by this decision, it is this Gov. Hull's vision of limited, regulated gambling on Indian reservations is not legally possible.

Our state now has a decision to make. One possibility is that we become a gambling Mecca, another Las Vegas with casinos on every corner, slots in every convenience store, and keno in every restaurant.

Or, in the alternative, we shut down the few casinos now existing in our state and restore Arizona's reputation as a family-friendly community with a superior quality of life. In the meantime, we find a less damaging way to promote prosperity among the Native American community.

Families and our entire community will benefit if we choose the first option, and banish casinos from our state.

The harms of gambling become more apparent with each year, as this social cancer spreads through our nation.

Pro-family Arizonans must wake up to the fact that our children are being raised in a gambling culture that is completely different than the one we were raised in. Our children learn casino jingles from radio and TV before they learn to read.

Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren in Arizona? Increased crime, divorce rates, child abuse, bankruptcy and suicide as a result of widespread, legalized gambling? Isn't Las Vegas close enough?

Len Munsil, President of the Center for Arizona Policy, Scottsdale, Ariz.

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