NO DICE: THE BACKLASH AGAINST GAMBLING

CASH-STRAPPED TOWNS EMBRACED CASINOS AS SALVATION. BUT WITH THEM COME ECONOMIC DISLOCATION AND BROKEN LIVES. NOW GAMING INITIATIVES ARE MEETING RESISTANCE NATIONWIDE

THE COFFEE IS BREWED, AND parishioners gather in the meeting hall of the Epworth United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. On the wall a hand-scrawled poster exhorts: CASINO LOBBYISTS TAKE A HIKE! The tables are strewn with literature on gambling addiction. The T shirts on sale sport the logo NO CASINO and a fiercely clawed Maryland blue crab. As for the evening's featured speaker, "We call him Riverboat Rambo," says Barbara Knickelbein, a grandmotherly church activist, with a mixture of affection and reverence.

To his fan, the Rev. Thomas Grey, 55, an Illinois pastor, is the merry messiah who has built...

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