Perhaps you’ve notice that there have been two pandemics going on in the last couple of years, and one of them is even promoted by national TV networks, major sports leagues, politicians, whole states trying to raise money for public education and much more. I’m referring to the plague of opportunities to waste what little money you have by gambling. We are a very long way from the days when we were scandalized by Pete Rose because he bet on baseball, and these are not better days as a result. Gone are the days when in my home state of N.C. the Baptists and Methodists banded together and lobbied the state officials until they killed any attempts to pass laws to promote gambling (except for some reason on Indian reservations). So, you may be asking, what exactly is wrong with gambling? My answer is a lot.
Well let’s start with the fact that for many if not most participants gambling is as addictive as taking opioids. This is why there is an organization called Gambler’s Anonymous. Like addiction to alcohol and other sorts of drugs, this behavior can ruin entire families, steal children’s inheritance, and ultimately land someone in prison, because there are as many forms of illegal gambling as legal gambling, and no the latter did not cause the former to dry up.
Then there is the whole premise of gambling—- namely I would like to try and get a lot while only putting in a little. Of course this premise also applies to playing the stock market as well, and what it undermines is the whole notion that there should be fair compensation for good work. Gambling severs the necessary connection between doing something useful that benefits society and being compensated for doing so. Gambling is purely a selfish pursuit, indeed sometimes pursued ‘so I won’t have to work’! Forget about being a good citizen and helping the community, this is all about padding one’s bank account without having to work. As St. Paul once said, ‘let the one who will not work, not eat’. Underlying all of this shady behavior is often one of the seven deadly sins— greed. It says a lot about how increasingly corrupt our society has become that we have best-selling books entitled things like ‘GREED is Good!’. That whole attitude is the opposite of the virtue known as self-sacrificial love.
And then there are the facts. Gambling all too often robs from the poor, and gives to the rich owners of casinos, of betting apps, etc. Very often the very people who can’t afford to gamble, sometimes out of desperation for their situation, turn to gambling. And indeed the whole way lotteries are run promotes greed. When there is a 50 million dollar jackpot, instead of dividing it to 50 winners, what do lotteries tend to do? They give the grand prize to exactly one person with one ticket, or occasionally one group of people who bought the one winning ticket. This is despicable, and it simply further promotes bad behavior—- all in the name of a good cause! Education. Do you hear educators protesting— ‘oh that’s immoral!’ Nope. They call it a useful sin tax. Forgive me but I thought we were supposed to be stopping sin, not incentivizing it in the name of a good cause. Taxing sin only enables more sin, but some will say it’s the lesser of two evils.
What is especially pernicious is those sports channels that are targeting younger watchers with their other hands, while at the same time promoting gambling through games like Fan Duel etc. And we have even the announcers during the game promoting this, including former sports stars that people admire. Shame on all ya’ll!!
I’ve seen the lives of the poor which have been further ruined by gambling. I’ve seen the homes broken apart by gambling. Just go spend some time with the Salvation Army folks, and get them to tell you the tales of some of the people they work to help get out of poverty every single day. It’s heartbreaking. Let me be clear that I have no problem with playing games from time to time like Fantasy Football, if it’s played just for fun. What I do have a problem with is playing such games in order to ‘make it rain’ (i.e. make money). This is no way to earn your keep, and promote healthy work habits and be a good example to your family and friends. And last but not least– gambling is not in any way a Christian form of behavior. Just because it is increasingly legal in many forms doesn’t make it moral or ethical.
Think about these things.