To: House Judiciary Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: HCR 3033 — State-Owned Casinos
Date: March 13, 2017

The North Dakota Catholic Conference opposes HCR 3033.

Proponents of House Concurrent Resolution 3033 argue that if the measure will not hurt existing charitable and tribal gaming, and that the proposed state-owned casinos would be financially successful. If both of those propositions are true, HCR 3033 proposes a major expansion of gambling in North Dakota.

Gambling can be a morally neutral act. However, “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” and becomes morally unacceptable when it deprives an individual of what is necessary to provide for his/her needs and those of others. With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling.

Furthermore, the erosive affect of widespread availability of gambling can undermine the common good. When gambling as a revenue stream becomes overly prevalent in a society, the risks associated with problem gambling multiply. Studies repeatedly show increased crime, personal bankruptcies, and addiction rates associated with casinos and expanded gambling opportunities.

Proponents suggest that HCR 3033 should be adopted because legalization of casinos by initiative is “inevitable.” However, the Legislative Assembly has not had legislation for state-owned casinos and no initiated measure for additional casinos has been circulated for signatures. In fact, expansion of gambling has not been inevitable in other states, as many voters and legislatures have rejected proposals to expand gambling in their states. If we followed the “inevitability” logic, the state should immediately legalize recreational marijuana, assisted suicide, and caps on carbon emissions. The fact that other states have done something does not make it inevitable.

We urge a Do Not Pass on HCR 3033.