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Disagrees with Sheriff Scott’s opinion about gambling in state of Florida

December 28, 2011
Pine Island Eagle

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott's guest comment in the recent Pine Island Eagle. Sheriff Scott asserts that he does not gamble, but favors the proposed "destination resort/casino" here in Lee County. I differ with Sheriff Scott on both points. While I do gamble, I am opposed to this casino.

My gambling is pretty much limited to buying up to five Powerball tickets when the pot gets big, as it does every few months or so. That's it. The thing with gambling and me is I hate to lose and feel stupid when I do lose. And if I win, which is hardly ever, I feel lucky, not smart.

With respect to the other point, I believe adding another casino to Florida is dangerous to the well being of many working families. Science has shown that in many individuals gambling stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain similarly to a narcotic. It feels good, it's addictive and it's just biological chemistry.

In 1970, I traveled a lot and met a guy in the Denver Greyhound Bus Station. He wore a nice suit, but was in his stocking feet. He told me he had gone to Vegas and lost all his money. Calling home, his wife had angrily telegraphed him the money to get home but he had gambled away that money as well. So he sold his shoes to buy a bus ticket as far as he could get, which was Denver. I gave him a few pointers on hitchhiking the interstates.

Another time I was on the board of directors of a non-profit and my best friend on the board lost himself to video gambling and stole $60,000 of our small budget to pay his gambling debts. It broke my heart, but I voted with the board to turn him in to law enforcement. He served a year in prison, lost his wife, the respect of his kids and his job.

I have more anecdotes, but probably so do we all. The point is, this proposed local casino will create more gambling addicts, more crime, more misery and more stress on families. This recession has trashed our economy, but we are not going to be able to gamble our way out of our problems. A casino is just another way for high rolling investors to suck more money out of our working families. Millionaires like Donald Trump, own casinos - they don't gamble at them.

Sheriff Scott, we are all entitled to our opinions. But rather than say you don't gamble, why don't you promise us you have not and will not take any contributions from the gambling interests that are pushing this casino. I promise I won't.

Scott Wilkinson




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