Gambling with lives

It is ironic that March is National Problem Gambling Awareness month. It is the same month several huge sporting events take place: March Madness for college basketball, Frozen Four for college hockey, Nascar and Major League Soccer. Many a friendly wager will be placed.

March is also the month legislators decided to hear a bill that would kill keno; the bingo like game that mysteriously showed up in the final state budget last year, a budget I voted against.

Consistent with its ongoing and well recognized commitment to increase public awareness about responsible play, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation recently pledged support for National Problem Gambling Awareness month. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation urges you to call 1-888-789-7777, a free resource to help those with gambling problems.

This is a sobering reminder considering the state sought to start up yet another game of chance; preying upon the people of this state who can't afford to put food on the table, but who will spend their last dollar on a keno card if given the chance.

In order to raise money because the legislature has been lacking fiscal responsibility and self-control, the administration was willing to embrace keno.

We know that gambling problems can affect the entire family. It is devastating to see someone bet it all and lose. Wouldn't it be easier for leaders in Hartford to just budget properly?

The Lottery's on-going efforts in support of responsible gambling during the past year have included:

• Participating and contributing to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling Annual Conference.

• Reminding educators and parents of the impact that gambling problems can have on families.

The Lottery will also be hitting the airwaves running public service announcements in support of responsible gambling. You will see digital billboards to promote the Problem Gambling Helpline number and on and on and on.

According to the Lottery's website, since 1996 this quasi-government group has returned a total of $22,323,000 to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Chronic Gamblers Treatment and Rehabilitation Fund. In fiscal year 2013, the Lottery returned $2.3 million to the fund.

Clearly, if kept on the law books, keno would add to the issue of problem gambling. Our citizens deserve better. I would like to see lawmakers in Hartford and the administration bet on the future of our state by being responsible. The madness must end.

State Sen. Tony Guglielmo, a Republican, represents the 35th District. He lives in Stafford.

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