Beth-johnsonCHENNAI, India (BNc) by Beth Johnson — A recent billboard ad intended to promote the local lottery in our home state of South Carolina asks the question, “What does ‘playing responsibly’ mean to you?”

How would you answer such a question if it were put to you directly?  Can there be such a thing as “playing responsibly?”

State and local governments, enticed by promises of jobs, revenue and tourism, have started to sell citizens on the idea of gambling. States now spend millions of dollars annually advertising lotteries. The increased availability of gambling and governments’ sanction of it have helped push the number of Americans who gamble to an all-time high.

The spread of legalized gambling in the USA is exacting colossal social and economic costs on our nation. Gambling expansion has brought with it increased crime, divorce and family disruption and has created a multitude of new addicts. Gambling has also exploited the poor and youth.

Beth Johnson is a member of the Sai Ram congregation in West Tambaram, a suburb of Chennai, South India.

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