Moral Arguments Against Gambling

By Florence Scott,2014-05-09 21:05
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Moral Arguments Against Gambling

    Casting Lots: Ethics and Gambling

    Moral Arguments Against Gambling

    “Societies disintegrate from within more frequently than they are broken up by external pressures. There is disintegration when no common morality is observed, and history shows that the loosening of moral bonds is often the first stage of disintegration.”

     ---Sir Patrick Delvin (1)

    “The potential for loss when gambling on a certainty is infinite.”

    ---Winston Churchill (2)

     “The best throw at dice is to throw them away.”

    ---Mark Twain (3)

What ever happened to “Justice” and “Righteousness?”

    “In America, we have the philosophy that if it is old, it’s not any good. That belief has made us the envy of the world and destroyed our roots.” (NBC, “White Paper”)

For some, the virtues of “justice” and “righteousness” may appear horribly out-of-date. Budget

    shortfalls in Texas seem to demand that legislators accept what appears to be the nation’s vice of choicegamblingto pay for important social programs like education.

    EXCEPT that we DO care.

    Consider the flap over William Bennett’s confession of his preference for late-night

    gambling in Las Vegas casinos, and his losing millions in the process. The predicament of William Bennett, Champion of Virtues now publicly embarrassed by his private vice, shows us that we are not through talking about the morality of gambling. Victim as he is of the “gotcha” game, William Bennett symbolizes that down deep we do still care about old-fashioned core values. We do worry down deep that using gambling to solve our state’s money problems is

    neither just nor righteous. What part can you, the Legislator, play? You can:

Avoid ethical schizophrenia

    ; “I don’t gamble myself, but. . .” Texas legislators who argue that gambling is good for

    the state but not good for their own participation have a dual system of ethics. Legislation

    for the good of the state should be good for all the population, not aimed at exploiting

    those who do gamble.

    ; In fact, 66 to 80 per cent of gambling revenues come from just 10 percent of the

    population that gamble most heavily. (Grinols) If legislators count themselves in the 90

    per cent who are not problem gamblers, then aren’t they targeting the weakest members

    of the population? Their actions become detrimental to the social and economic

    foundations of Texas. (NCALG)

    ; Rational policymaking should be based on cost-benefit analysis, including gambler

    protection to prevent excessive gambling, to keep crime out of gambling, and to ensure

    fair and honest games. (Cabot)

    ; Governments should not sanction exploitation of the public. Instead governments should

    seek to adopt laws that prevent the practice of encouraging people to gamble by limiting

    advertising, entertainment, junkets, or other activities.

    ; Legislators should not confuse gambling with loyalty to the state. Current advertisements

    for the state lottery make it seem that buying lottery tickets are good for Texas. However,

    gambling and acts of patriotism are two, very distinct, and mutually exclusive activities.

Christian Life Commission Baptist General Convention of Texas, 2003

Consider Judeo-Christian Roots

    ; “Casting lots” appears in both the Old and New Testaments. For the ancient Hebrews,

    casting lots was not understood as a game of chance. Instead, casting lots was done with

    the belief that a sovereign God would provide direction through the randomness of the

    lots. Ultimately God controlled the universe, so nothing was random. Casting lots,

    therefore, was an activity to discern God’s will, not a self-directed game of chance.

    ; For Christians, casting lots resonates with the image of Roman soldiers casting lots for

    Jesus’ seamless robe, while he was hanging on the Cross. In John 19:24 (as echo of

    Psalm 22:18), the image is very much a secular divinationa game of chance and part of

    the very heavy irony surrounding the Crucifixion scene.

    ; As legislators, when you cast your lot with gambling interests, you are more Roman than

    Hebrew in your understanding of the role of God in modern society. You are saying,

    “With this cast of my lot, I am participating in secular divination. I am giving my

    allegiance to games of chance over the Sovereignty of God to discern the direction of the

    state and to solve its financial problems.

Avoid corrupting the poor and disadvantaged and the young

    ; The African-American constituency is at-risk for pathological and problem gambling at a

    proportionately higher rate than other ethnic groups. (NORC)

    ; Pathological and problem gamblers are more likely than other gamblers or non-gamblers

    to have been on welfare, declared bankruptcy, and to have been arrested or incarcerated.


    ; Those without disposable income may use their money to gamble instead of buying

    essential goods and services, such as health care and food, thus lowering their standard of

    living. Tax benefits to the state from gambling revenues may be insufficient even to

    remedy the decline in the standard of living. (Cabot)

    ; The fastest growing addiction among teenagers and college-age young people is problem

    gambling. The rate at which young people become problem gamblers is about twice that

    of adults. (4)

Count the cost to Society

    ; Problem gamblers impose costs on the rest of society: crime related apprehension,

    adjudication, incarceration, social services cost for themselves and their families. Lost

    productivity is another social cost, as well as increased suicide, increased car accidents,

    increased incidence of child abuse.

    ; Expanding gambling nationwide would be more costly than an additional hurricane

    Andrew every year. That amounts to $32 billion in damage in perpetuity. Or it would be

    the equivalent of an additional 1990-91 recession roughly every decade. (Grinols and

    Omorov, 1995, as quoted in

    ; Studies show that dysfunctional gamblers use paychecks, savings, and borrowings from

    friends, relatives, and loan sharks to support their gambling. Many had work-related

    problems or had been fired from their jobs. Many engaged in illegal acts, such as

    embezzlement, forgery, filing false income tax returns, and insurance fraud. (Cabot)


    1.Anthony N. Cabot. “Is legalized gambling good economics for the states?” World & I, (March 1997), 300.

    2. May 6, 2003.

    3. Norman L. Geisler with Thomas A. Howe, Gambling a Bad Bet” You Can’t Win for Losing in More Ways Than You

    Can Imagine (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1990), 73.

    4. Rex M. Rogers. “America’s New Love Affair with Gambling: Should Christians Be Concerned?” CRI. May 6, 2003.

    Christian Life Commission Baptist General Convention of Texas, 2003

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