The SD Catholic Conference opposes SJR 502, which seeks to amend the state constitution to permit mobile sports betting throughout the state. The Catholic Church does not understand games of chance to be inherently wrong in every instance. However, very serious concerns arise in the context of modern sports betting, as would be authorized by the passage of SJR 502. Through instant access to wagering on one’s phone or mobile device — an impulse that can be instantly fulfilled at any time, in any place — has shown itself to be conducive to addiction that increases the harm to individuals, families, and communities. This type of addictive gambling is distinct from that which may be undertaken on a leisure vacation or as part of a low-stakes fundraiser. Rather, online sports betting risks becoming a habitual way of life that leads to problem gambling, a form of enslavement (Catechism, no. 2413). Person trapped in the negative financial, emotional, or physical consequences of gambling addition often feel shame and hopelessness, leading some 20% of those diagnosed with gambling addition disorder to attempt suicide. For these reasons, we believe addictive forms of gambling, as would be expanded under SJR 502, should not be enshrined in the state constitution.

Categories: 2022 Session