In 1998, gambling was legal in only two states. In 2003, it was legal in every state except two. In 2001, Americans lost 65 billion dollars to casinos, yet the “gaming weekend” is the number one get away in America today. People are attracted to gambling because it is the “American Dream” to get rich quick. Gaming, the “politically correct” word for gambling is just a euphemism for gambling. It is used because it sounds more like harmless fun when we use the word “game.” But is there a real danger in trying to make the quick buck?
Are games like roulette, bingo, craps, pinball, poker and black-jack innocent? Is betting on a horse or hockey really harmful? Consider the fact that when a casino is built, there is always an increase in drugs, suicides, robbery, murder, drive-by shootings, prostitution, domestic violence, pornography, rape, child neglect, child abuse and drug and alcohol abuse. Suicide is many times greater among our Native Peoples than among Anglos. When a Native becomes addicted to gambling, suicide is often a first resort—not a last resort. The Anglos who would exploit our Native people by promoting gaming have much blood on their hands.
An old maxim defines gambling as “the mother of lies, the father of idleness, the brother of sin and the sister of sloth.” But what is the real definition? It is “to risk money on the outcome of something involving chance.” Gambling is betting on something knowing that the outcome is uncertain. For something to be defined as gambling, it must contain a pay-off, an element of chance and stakes that are risked.
Some argue that the stock market is the same as gambling. This is not true, for when one buys stock, it is usually an investment based on careful calculations, with the hope that investment will grow with the company. Buying stock is a calculated risk. Those who use the stock market take every precaution to reduce the risk of loss, but gambling is a win-or-lose proposition. The gambler knows he or she will lose most of the time, but plays and pays anyway.
Is Gaming Innocent?
Gambling adds nothing to the wealth of a community. When an Indian reservation brings in a casino, it may produce better roads and better schools, but the social impact due to crime can never justify such improvements. Many tribes have withstood the lure of gaming, but one by one, they eventually succumb. The lure of free money from the dominant society which has long exploited them is just too great.
Getting Started Gambling
Five to ten percent of teens are problem gamblers in the United States. They may have started with video games or betting a soda on a high school football game. Virtually anything can become a “bet.” Even recreational gambling promotes covetousness, for it nurtures the myth that luck is better than work. The best way to ensure that you will never become a compulsive gambler is to never start.
Is It Ok To Play The Lottery?
Columbus’ sailors crossed the Atlantic playing cards in 1492. Europeans brought gambling to Americans. In 1612, England ran a lottery to assist the settlement in Jamestown. George Washington was a card player and gambler. In 1776, the First Continental Congress ran a lottery to help finance the Revolutionary War. From 1790-1860, 24 of the 36 states had a government-run lottery. Hundreds of churches had lotteries also. Taxpayers are deceived into thinking the Lottery will generate more state funds, so Lotto is sold to a gullible public that believes it will decrease taxes. But the poor spend more on Lotto than the rich, for the rich don’t need to play the Lottery. States always lose in the long run; for they must spend more on law enforcement when the lottery spurs people on to insist on having casinos on riverboats or Indian reservations. Lotto promotes gaming and develops a new crop of gamblers every day. States think up new ways to promote Lotto and thus promote compulsive gambling. States know they can’t compete with the casinos, so they find new ways to get more people to play Lotto for “better” odds. They dream up smaller, innovative jackpots, but the odds are still millions-to-one. Do the math.
Is Gambling A True Addiction?
An addiction is a love affair with an activity. All addictions involve compulsion, loss of control and continuance of a behavior despite the consequences. Gambling is a true addiction for it fits this description. Though gambling is clearly an addiction, not everyone who gambles is an addict. No one ever plans to become addicted to anything. Most gamblers think they can stop anytime—so do most alcoholics. The irony is that there are more compulsive gamblers in America than alcoholics. The relapse rate for “cured” gamblers is greater than cocaine addiction. Only eight percent are free of gambling a year after treatment is completed. They don’t even bother to use the word “cured.” A contemporary maxim reads, “If a gambler can be cured, then there is a cure for AIDS.” No one who has been totally set free from gaming by the delivering power of Jesus Christ ever longs to return to this lifestyle.
There are over ten million Americans today with a gambling habit that is out of control. Thanks to state-controlled lotteries, that number is growing. This is an addiction that is not detectable simply by looking at a person. When one is an alcoholic, you can often look at them and tell. But a gambling addict may never show his or her addiction on the outside.
Over twenty percent of all compulsive gamblers attempt suicide. Suicide is often considered an option at the first signs of legal troubles, such as getting caught for bad checks. It is not uncommon for compulsives to carry second and third mortgages on their homes. An ancient maxim reads “Stick to your gambling and you’ll sell your house.”
Gambling involves theft. Many people steal from their companies by pilfering funds in innovative ways in order to feed their addiction. I was acquainted with a man whose son was a gambling addict. He seemed perfectly normal to his wife and family. But one day he disappeared with a sum of money from his company. His wife was found, murdered, stuffed in his home freezer. After several years in prison for his crimes, this man killed himself. The changes in a gambling addict’s personality are often bizarre, for all gambling is antisocial. There are no happy people playing the slot machines. Who has sympathy for a gambler who is losing? I once watched a large group of gamblers de-plane after their Vegas weekend. No one was laughing. Most of them looked haggard, weary and disappointed.
Children of compulsive gamblers do worse in school than their peers. When a person becomes a compulsive, nothing else matters: he or she becomes desensitized. Only the game matters, not the family. Who are the victims? Those closest to the gambler. Gambling is a tremendous threat to one’s family, for it often drives people into a life of dishonesty.
Most compulsive gamblers lose any chance of retirement, because they will have to work for rest of their lives because they have spent all their savings. A grandmother in Phoenix killed herself when she realized she had spent all her grandkids’ inheritance. Many gamblers are over 55 years old. They can’t win money back fast enough to “beat the clock.” They are too old. The casinos have always exploited the elderly, but their latest ploy is to lure the truckers. Truckers are mostly good men who make good money. Because they are on the road so much and often lonely, the brightly-lit casinos, with all the accompanying vices, seek to draw them like a moth to a candle. Gambling addicts are known to say, “My vehicle seems to go faster as I feel the thrill of approaching a casino.”
It is said that there are two times a gambler can’t quit: when he is winning and when he is losing.
Compulsives embezzle, cheat, lie, and most will steal when necessary to fund their habit. They tell themselves that, “When I win, I’ll pay it all back. Everyone will forgive me because everyone loves a winner.” Over two-thirds of compulsives turn to crime to finance their habits. A single compulsive gambler costs society tens of thousands of dollars a year. “The number of compulsive gamblers will increase between 100 and 550 percent when gambling is brought into an area,” according to University of Illinois Professor John Kindt. The average compulsive gambler is very deep in debt. Gambling addiction rears its ugly head in the form of an inevitable financial disaster.
Gamblers Anonymous literature is available at all casinos, because GA knows where the compulsive gamblers hang out. This is a secular 12-step program with a very low rate of success. The “higher power” that GA promotes is not the power of the Holy Spirit but one’s own human desire to escape from the grip of an addiction. Casino owners are often required by state law to make such literature available. It is usually as effective a deterrent as the warning label on a pack of Camels.
It’s hard to quit, especially with the advent of on-line gaming. The addict never seems to notice that “E-Gaming” is easily rigged. Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling. It is an instant quick thrill and is easily accessible. The strength of a craving depends largely upon its availability. It’s hard to break the addiction with a PC in a gambler’s home.
Is Gambling Forbidden In The Bible?
When one gambles, the focus is on luck, not faith in God. (Isaiah 55:11-12). All gambling is based on covetousness. The desire to gamble is the desire to get free money. The love of money is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10). This same verse tells us that those who are covetous have erred from the faith and pierce themselves with many sorrows. There are no satisfied gamblers. When one gambles, they are not doing honest work, for its expressed purpose is to gain material wealth without having to work for it. Gambling is just sophisticated stealing, for you are not loving your neighbor when you seek to get something from him for nothing. Read Proverbs 20 and you will find that “the person who hurries to be rich has an evil eye and does not realize that poverty will soon overtake him.” The excitement of the bet, the visualization in the mind of the jackpot, the hope you can beat the odds, the quick-fix for my financial woes, all these are elusive pipe dreams. When that illusive jackpot is finally won, a gambler almost always gambles it all away. The dream of the big win is a dream that the Holy Spirit will not give to you.
Nothing good or godly comes from gambling. Consider the origin of playing cards. The first deck of cards was made for Charles of France (who many considered to be insane) in 1392. The King represented the Devil; the Queen represented the Virgin Mary, who was depicted as the Mother of Harlots. The Jack represented the pimps of that era who exploited the prostitutes. The Club represented a murder weapon. The Joker represents Jesus as a fool. Thus, a deck of cards is the story of Jesus (the Joker) the illegitimate child of a lustful pimp (the Jack) and the Virgin Mary (the Queen) who is the mother of all whores. Keep this in mind the next time someone suggests a harmless game of poker.
Though Gambling isn’t a Bible word, covetousness is. Gambling is seeking gain through the loss of another. Although it is difficult to make a case for not gambling from any single Bible verse, to risk God’s money simply means I don’t trust God to supply my needs. Gambling is not good stewardship of God’s money. What are you willing to risk for a toss of the dice, the turn of a card, the spin of a wheel, the pull of a “one-armed-bandit?” No gambler is a prayer warrior, for if he was to pray about gambling, the Holy Spirit would lead him away from such a self-destructive lifestyle. Jesus is the only One who can truly set the captive free from the lure of “free” money.