Letter to the editor: Don’t promote more lottery gambling

A front page article appeared in the Tulsa Beacon about House Bill 1837 claiming that you are proposing that Oklahoman’s gamble more to support public education.  The article states that you are disappointed by the revenue being brought in by the lottery, and feel this legislation would ensure more money would make it to the state coffers if the lottery had bigger and better prizes.

When the lottery was approved in Oklahoma – it was based on the fact that a certain percentage of the monies received from the lottery would be given to public education.  Sounds good on paper…

The problem of funding state sponsored education is not with the amount of money that has been brought in each year by the lottery – it’s the fact that the State of Oklahoma has reduced the educational budget each year by the amount of money received from the lottery – resulting in a net gain of zero for the educational system.   I have a personal friend who is a principal in a Tulsa school who has verified this.

Enticing people to gamble should be criminal.  Even if it is “only the lottery.”   That money “spare money” could be used to buy food for the kids of these people – and not have to support these people through the ACCESS card system.

Encouraging people to spend their spare change or hard earned money to buy lottery tickets is just wrong.  I was doing some work at a convenience store here in Tulsa and watched a man spend several hundred dollars on lottery tickets – and from his appearance, that money could have been spent in other places.

I am the partner of a compulsive  gambler and have seen the effects of uncontrolled gambling first hand.  I am also the delegate for Gam-Anon for five states.  Gam-Anon is the support side of Gamblers Anonymous, just like Al-Anon  is the support side of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I have been attending meetings for almost 10 years and seen the damage gambling can do to a family.

The effects of compulsive gambling work on a sliding scale – what may be a small amount of money lost for one person would be devastating for another.

Gambling is an addiction – and to my way of thinking, buy encouraging people to spend more on lottery tickets is like setting the hook on a fish when fishing.   Gambling is an illness.  Many people who have not lived with the experience of a compulsive gambler would call me crazy – but to watch someone spend money they can ill-afford to lose is sad.

I welcome talking to both of you – and if you would like to attend a Gam-Anon meeting first hand, there is one on Tuesday Evenings in Tulsa at 7 p.m. at St. Matthews Methodist Church, 12424 East 31st St.  Tulsa – On 31st Street between Garnet and 129th East Ave.

I implore you to not promote the lottery any more than it already is.   The problem is within your state budget – not the amount of money received from the lottery.