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Survey: Nearly 1 in 5 at missions blame gambling for homelessness

WASHINGTON (BP)–Nearly one in five people at the country’s rescue missions say gambling has played a part in their homelessness, according to a recent survey.
A survey of more than 1,100 men and women at gospel missions nationwide found 18 percent of respondents cited gambling as a cause of their homelessness. The polling also showed 70 percent of respondents believe the prevalence of gambling opportunities makes it difficult for them to rebuild their lives. Though they are homeless, 37 percent said they occasionally gamble. Eighty-six percent said they consider gambling addictive.
Lotteries far outdistanced other forms of gambling by respondents in the rescue missions. Those who used to play, or still play, lotteries totaled 86 percent, contrasted with 34 percent at casinos and 25 percent at horse and dog racing tracks, the survey showed.
The results of the survey, conducted by the International Union of Gospel Missions, were released only four days before the National Gambling Impact Study Commission began its March 16-17 meeting at Boston. The panel was expected to consider the impact of state lotteries by focusing on the Massachusetts lottery.
“This survey confirms what any honest person would admit — lotteries are bad business and bad public policy,” said Barrett Duke, gambling specialist for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “One hundred years ago, our country dealt with lotteries and banned them in every state. Today, history is repeating itself.
“Our own states are destroying the people they are supposed to be protecting through their insatiable appetite for more spending money. The time has come for the people of this country to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and to begin to elect legislators who will end this tragedy. If we don’t do it soon, it may be someone we know on the streets next,” Duke said.
The survey was conducted because of increasing reports from missions of the devastating effects of gambling in lotteries and at casinos on people’s lives, according to the International Union of Gospel Missions, an association of nearly 250 rescue missions in the United States.
“The people running America’s rescue missions, who are giving their lives to care for society’s less fortunate, ask very little from the government,” said Lee Schmooker, executive director of a Newark, N.J., mission, in a IUGM news release. “At a minimum, we ask that it not make our lives more difficult. And by promoting lotteries and cutting sweetheart deals with the corporate gamblers, that is exactly what is happening.”
Ninety-two percent of respondents in the survey were male. The majority, 56 percent, of respondents were from the 31-to-45-year-old age bracket.
The rescue missions conducted the research by giving men and women at their facilities surveys to fill out and to return in a designated box or face down.