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Anti-Casino Crusader in Connecticut

15 April 2004

CONNECTICUT – As reported by Connecticut Now: "Bring up Tom Grey in gambling industry circles and the topic might as well be the mob or higher taxes.

"But on the anti-gambling circuit, the affable and chatty Grey is a sought-after lightning rod whose presence is a sure sign a casino fight is brewing. A soldier in a crusade against gambling, Grey arrived in Connecticut this week, lugging his overstuffed briefcase and brimming with new tactics to derail casinos.

"…More than a decade into the campaign, this Vietnam veteran-turned-Methodist preacher won't give up the fight. Connecticut, where Indian tribes hope to double the number of Indian casinos to four in coming years, is Grey's latest line in the sand.

"He's here to light a fire under the state's sleepy clergy. He's on the phone trying to get Ralph Nader involved. He's trying to cobble together a new coalition to beat back gambling in New England and push Connecticut out front in the debate.

"Grey ticks off recent victories stopping gambling expansion in Maine, Wisconsin and Maryland. He laughs that a 63-year-old Methodist pastor off the prairie can rattle the cages of billionaire Las Vegas corporations. The Midwestern charm, though, belies his savvy relationship with the press.

"…Few have gotten under the skin of the gambling business as adeptly as Grey, who looks a decade younger than his age. Whether it's his battlefield rhetoric, an ability to bring together the religious right with liberal groups, or his penchant for just showing up wherever there's a fight, no one stands out like this minister with sparkling blue eyes.

"…But Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said Grey's alienating rhetoric can overshadow the need to help the addicted.

"…As executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, Grey is paid $4,000 a month, which covers his salary and all expenses, to organize opposition around the country.

"…Grey promises that he is about controlling, not eliminating, gambling…"

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