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On the Edge of a Gambling Boom

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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August 30, 2021 2:46 pm

On the Edge of a Gambling Boom

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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August 30, 2021 2:46 pm

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes attorney and gambling expert Chris Derrick to discuss the potential gambling boom North Carolina could see in the coming years, particularly if certain bills pass the state legislature this session. Chris Derrick is the author of an article on the same topic in NC Family’s latest edition of our flagship publication Family North Carolina Magazine, which will be hitting mailboxes in the next couple of weeks.

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MUSIC I wish you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracy Devitt-Griggs. Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. I hope you've been watching as the North Carolina legislature is grappling with legalizing sports gambling in our state. NC Family has been writing quite a few email updates on this recently.

Interestingly, in our culture where almost every issue is polarized along party lines, this is one that has supporters and opponents on both sides of the political aisle. Attorney Chris Derek joins us today to talk about this and a wide range of issues surrounding gambling. Chris has a long history on this issue back as far as his work assisting Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson was on the bipartisan National Gambling Impact Commission, which released its Hallmark Report in 1999, much of which is still relevant for today. Well, Chris wrote an article for us published in the current edition of NC Family magazine, Family North Carolina. Chris Derek, welcome to Family Policy Matters. Thank you, Tracy.

It's great to be back with you all. So we hear so much in support of legalized gambling enterprises out there in the public square. It sounds reasonable on the face of it, but remind us very quickly, if you would, why increasing the face of gambling in our state is detrimental to the vulnerable and to our families. Well, decades of research has shown that the more prevalent legalized gambling is in whatever form it may be, the more citizens there are that will gamble. And of those who do, a significant percentage, anywhere from three to five percent will become problem gamblers. And there are very high correlations between problem gambling and criminal activity, job loss, bankruptcy, homelessness, domestic violence and divorce and even suicide. In fact, the National Institute of Health, they have a study that shows that at least one out of every 20 Americans have had their lives turned upside down because of commercial gambling. So legalized gambling comes with a very high price tag and it's something that has to be factored in whenever you're considering expanding the presence of gambling in a state like North Carolina. So in other words, even though we may not personally know anyone who has gambled, say bought a lottery ticket and become addicted, we're talking about what's best as far as public policy for our state, right, which is actually kind of a different thing.

Well, that is and it's not. I mean, you have to take into consideration what happens to the vulnerable and you also have to take into consideration are there any benefits coming to the state that actually flow from that and offset those bad factors that gambling brings in. You know, the sports bill is a good example of that sort of interplay. Its proponents say that people are betting on sports already, so let's legalize it so the General Assembly can at least get a cut of the money. But if sports betting, if it were to become legal under that bill that's before the Senate just passed, the state would only get about 8% of the revenues generated and it's the operators of the gambling enterprises like DraftKings and FanDuel who'd be pocketing the real money. Let's talk a little bit more about that sports gambling bill then. So should we be surprised there are some prominent Republicans that are pushing this?

Well, maybe not. Gambling is one of those issues that interestingly doesn't always fall directly on party lines. So you'll have Republicans that are interested in doing anything to sort of bring in revenues.

And then you'll have a number of Republicans that will oppose it on social issues on the basis of social factors like I just mentioned, but you'll also have Democrats that are concerned for the very same reason, for the impact it has and can have on low-income folks. A good example is with respect to the lottery. You have to think about the fact that the North Carolina lottery generated $3 billion in revenues last year.

But you have to ask where did that money come from? A state-run lottery is actually the most regressive form of taxation that there is. And study after study has shown that it's lower-income folks who are funding the overwhelming majority of lottery collections. So for that reason, you'll get a lot of Democrats will come back behind in thinking through who does this impact if you increase gambling and they'll often oppose it on those reasons. When you mention the trade-off, that there are some good things that the state might get from legalizing gambling, which of course we hear a lot of those out in the public square. But what you're saying, I think I'm hearing you say that the trade-off is just not enough to justify all the negatives that come with it.

That's right. For state-regulated enterprises like the lottery, or what would be with sports betting, it's that justification that revenues can be used for great projects and things like that and the state's getting a cut of the revenues. But the fact has shown that where states authorize commercial gambling, all taxpayers, including non-gamblers, end up paying higher taxes for fewer services and their states end up with worse budget problems over the long term. So it doesn't always play out.

And then when you back in the social factors that we've mentioned, it becomes costly, I believe, for a state to further expand legalized gambling. You're listening to Family Policy Matters, a weekly radio show and podcast of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. This is just one of the many ways NC Family works to educate and inform citizens across North Carolina about policy issues that impact North Carolina families. Our vision is to create a state and nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. For more information about NC Family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation, visit our website at Again, that's And be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course our flagship publication, Family North Carolina Magazine.

We'd also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Let's talk a little bit in general about first the relationship and interplay between the federal and state law when it comes to gambling, because that complicates everything, doesn't it? Well, it does. Generally, states are free to either permit or prohibit different forms of gambling, unless there's a specific federal law that governs that particular form of gambling activity. A good example of how this works is with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. And that law was a federal act that essentially banned sports betting throughout the United States. But in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court repealed that act. And when it did, a number of states acted immediately to legalize sports betting in their home states.

And so it's an interesting interplay. That also comes into play, and federal and state law really intersect with respect to Indian gambling. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is the federal law that provides the means for tribes to operate casinos on tribal land. But the act sets up a process whereby a tribe must first enter into a compact or contract with the governor of a state before a tribe can offer casino gambling in its state. And that's how the Cherokees ended up with a casino over 25 years ago in our state by getting in place a compact with Governor Jim Hunt. Since that time, the Cherokees have expanded their gambling operations through new compacts with the governor.

And here in 2021, they're running two gambling destinations in Cherokee and in Murphy that offer unlimited Las Vegas-style gambling, including sports betting. Talk a little bit about the different elements or levels of gambling. Are some worse than others? Are some more addictive than others? The thing you have to keep in mind with respect to gambling and that can kind of distinguish about the harms gambling can create is what kind of gambling is it. And the things that affect that are really the proximity of the form of gambling and then the speed with which the form of a gambling allows you to play or to gamble. So if you say you have a casino or a video sweepstakes parlor within an easy drive of your house, that's concerning from a problem gambling standpoint. That's because casino-style games such as slots or video poker move fast and they provide a quick outcome.

And you can then immediately play again. And that feeds the gambling high, meaning that these type of games are more addictive in nature. And for the same reasons, though, the legalization of statewide sports betting is a huge concern. That's because sports betting is no longer simply placing a bet on the outcome of your favorite team's game this weekend. It's literally a nonstop daily form of gambling. And bets can be placed on anything from college sports to pro sports to even electronic sports.

So this form of gambling now is something that can be constant and repeated quickly. And the sports betting bill passes in North Carolina to say that it would be readily available would really be an understatement. There'll be no need to travel off to Cherokee or to Vegas to sports gamble.

You'll be able to legally bet from the convenience of your own home. And at the end of the day, the bill would make every home in North Carolina a potential sports bet casino. That's why it's interesting that the National Council on Problem Gambling came out with a recent survey on gambling in the United States. And they say that we're really on the threshold of starting the biggest expansion of gambling, legalized gambling in the nation's history. And the reason they say that is the legalization of sports betting that's going on across the country. And it's fueling the unprecedented explosion in gambling and problem gambling that we're going to see in the United States coming up.

Right. And I think people may not really realize, I appreciate you bringing that up about sports gambling, because with the advent of all these computers and electronically being able to place bets, you can actually bet on if somebody's going to make the next basket or who's going to make the next basket. And basketball, you're right, it is minute by minute, and that makes it more addictive, doesn't it?

That absolutely does. The speed with which you can play and it's quick, it's easy as punching a button now to place a bet. Is it encouraging that gambling does not fall along party lines? As far as those who oppose gambling, do we have an opportunity here then to talk to our representatives in a way that we might not if this issue fell more along party lines? I think we do.

I think that it gives us an opportunity. For example, with the sports betting bill, we've got a chance to push back on that if you're against this sort of thing, the expansion of gambling. And I believe that whether your representative is a Republican or a Democrat, they will listen to you on this issue.

So we've got a great opportunity to fight back on this, even though it's passed the Senate. And to fight the sports bill, you can contact your state House member through NC Families Action Center, which is a great way to go in getting your message out to your House member. And I would remind people that if they are not getting the emails from NC Family Policy Council,, that they could sign up for those. And we frequently send out alerts when there are important things happening in the legislature and easy ways to contact your representatives on those issues.

We're just about out of time for this week. But before we go, a reminder that our guest today, Chris Derek, has written an in-depth article on gambling for the most recent edition of our magazine, Family North Carolina. That's available online at

Or if you've signed up to receive them, you should be getting your copy of that magazine in your mailbox soon. Chris Derek, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters. You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week to listen to the show online and to learn more about NC Families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across North Carolina. Go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-12 07:36:56 / 2023-09-12 07:42:14 / 5

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