Posted - 22 Jan 2006 : 21:50:21
| The United States of America has entered into a love affair with gambling. Twenty seven states have casinos and several others are on the verge of legalization along with the lotteries, bingo games, card rooms and pari-mutuel betting already in existence. In 1994 U.S. citizens wagered $482 billion dollars on all forms of gambling. Many cash-strapped states see it as a way to increase revenue without raising taxes. Local economies also welcome the gaming industry because of the jobs that are provided. According to a poll conducted in 1994, 89% of the respondents said they approved of casino gambling. But what are the effects on families, on individuals, and on society itself? The effects, I believe, are deep and far-reaching.
First of all, gambling promotes covetousness. It tempts people with the possibility of easy riches. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after, they have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Thus it becomes a violation of the 10th commandment, "Thou shalt not covet."
Second, gambling wastes money. Some may have an abundance and not miss the losses. However, multitudes do not have it to spare. Studies show that people with incomes under $10,000 a year spend a larger percentage of their money on lotteries than those with higher incomes. According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, welfare recipients in Minnesota are withdrawing more than $400,000 dollars a year from ATMs at state run casinos. It could be argued that the money would be spent foolishly some other way were it not for the casinos, but we do not know that. Undoubtedly, there are families going without the necessities of life because mom or dad have been deluded into thinking they are going to strike it rich.
Third, gambling is addictive. In the same U.S. News and World Report article referred to earlier, Sociologist Rachel Volberg found that four years after the state of Iowa legalized riverboat gambling, the number of problem gamblers had tripled. And stories of ruined credit, bankruptcies, theft and even suicide are numerous. One compulsive gambler from Illinois said, "Casinos are the crack cocaine of gambling."
Fourth, gambling attracts the criminal element. The U.S. News and World Report article says that towns with casinos have experienced an upsurge of crime at the same time that crime as a whole was dropping in the rest of the nation. A 1994 survey revealed that crime rose 5.8% in those towns, while crime as a whole dropped 2% nationally. The 31 towns that got new casinos just the year before saw their crime rate rise 7.7%.
Fifth, gambling is a form of stealing. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, the great 19th-century preacher wrote, "...the whole habit of gambling is of the essence of theft, and this for the reason that it is a means of coming into possession of property for which one has done no honest work. Whether their practices are gilded by the glory of a court, or tarnished by the vulgarity of a slum, the gambler is a thief in the sight of God, and ought therefore to be so in the sight of all honest men."
Sixth, gambling costs society more than the revenues it produces. When the members of Gamblers Anonymous of Illinois were surveyed in 1994, 26% said they had divorced or separated because of gambling, 34% had lost or quit a job, 44% had stolen things from work, 21% had filed for bankruptcy, 18% had gambling related arrests, 66% had contemplated suicide, and 16% had attempted suicide. The costs for services for compulsive gamblers, including treatment and court expenses, has been estimated at between $13,000 and $35,000 per person. Estimates of the number of compulsive gamblers in America are between 6 and 10 million! You do the math!
Seventh, the gaming industry does not make or create anything. Such an industry is a parasite. It exists only because of the productivity of others. Money is shifted around without any tangible goods being produced, and most of it ends up in the pockets of the casino owners.
Eighth, legalized gambling makes the government a promoter of a "get something for nothing" attitude. Our nation has enough problems without government adding its endorsement to this evil. In reality, government should set the example of morality and righteousness in a nation. Romans 13:4 says that the ruler is "the minister of God to thee for good." But there is nothing "good" about encouraging people to lose their hard-earned money at the casino or the race track, or in the lottery. A nation that encourages such conduct is gambling with its own future.
Ninth, legalized gambling destroys morals, character, and leads to a more decadent society. Just because something has been legalized by passing a law, does not make it right, and the evidence is abundant that society suffers when gambling reigns. America has ills which many think can be cured by revenues from games of chance. But the spiritual effects will plunge this nation further down into the pit of degradation. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).