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Articles by Maureen Hayden

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Churches' Emergency Funds Targeted by Gamblers

One of the most rewarding tasks the Rev. Don Moore relishes is the chance to do a corporal work of mercy.

Heeding the words of Jesus to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and generally help those in need, the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Evansville, Ind. considers good works the evidence of Christian faith.

But over the last five years, Moore has begun to suspect an increasing number of those who come to him in need are trying to scam his church for money to feed gambling addictions.

Since Casino Aztar spun its first roulette wheel on Dec. 7, 1995, the number of requests for help from the church's emergency fund has more than tripled.

Many of the requests, Moore said, come from people who have gambled away the money they needed for rent, groceries, or heating bills. But instead of asking for money for food or baby formula, they want cash.

And they're willing to tell the wildest tales to get it.

"I think almo...