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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
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No one in the history of mankind has ever developed or operated
a casino out of a burning desire to improve the lot of humanity."
Former Nevada Deputy Attorney General
Every Christian ought to be able to visualize the place where his soul was brought from the pit of Hell; he should be able to visualize the crucifixion of Christ. Do you see the angry priests, the weeping women, and the apostle John? Can you distinguish the sneering thief from the repentant one? Do you see the nails, the blood and the roughness of those wooden stakes? Re-read one of the gospel accounts of the crucifixion. Meditate over it. Weep over it! If your visualization is accurate you'll see several soldiers near the cross. Perhaps they are on their knees as though in prayer. Look closely. They aren't praying! Those thieving and murdering mercenaries are gambling; gambling over which of their bloody hands will be privileged to carry Jesus' seamless robe away that night.
Those gamblers are the epitome of evil, while on the cross the incarnation of righteousness. Can you imagine those two reversed? Can you picture Jesus on his knees gambling over the property of another?
My Friend, gambling is contrary to the principles of Christ. It doesn't belong in the heart of any godly Christian.
The History Of Gambling
Wagering is almost as old as the hills. For many hundreds of years before the first coin was minted men found other things to gamble with. Archeologists have found painted pebbles resembling dice which go back to the days of the Stone Age. Anthropologists tell us that gambling has its roots in the worship of primitive gods, in fact the Hindus until recently worshiped Krishna by gambling and often losing all that they possessed. This tie with idolatry ought to be enough to keep God's people away from the vice of gambling.
With the advancement of knowledge and technology, gambling has advanced as well. Not so often do we hear about betting on which oyster will open first or on what day the first snow will fall. Now we enlightened people bet on football games and dog races.
For years, the sport of kings while horse racing was called dice and cards belonged is the serfs and beggars, but today all of us have access to whatever gambling we want, from the back alley "crap" game and the sleazy bookie join, to the plush casinos of Reno and Monte Carlo. Not only do we have access, but multitudes of us go. Public opinion polls reveal that two-thirds of all adults bet at least once a year, and 80% see nothing wrong with it.
Dr. Igor Kusyszyr of York University has said:
"We are pluck in the middle of a pleasure explosion. People are searching for kicks. They want to experience new and pleasurable sensations .... Gambling will pleasurably take the man out of reality, suspend him at a comfortable level of arousal and allow him to test his power of decision-making. Gambling also allows the individual to be a leading actor--a hero in a dream of his own making."
Perhaps Dr. Kusyszyr has pinpointed the reason for our rapid descent into the gambling dens.
The Waste Of Gambling
There is no way to accurately estimate how much money people waste in gambling. Any figure must be merely a guess, but what a guess! Five billion dollars per year is spent in Canada in legal gambling (5 times the defense budget), and $25 billion is spent illegally (some experts believe that illegal betting is 9 times as much as legal, chiefly on sporting events).
Albertans spend $43 million on lotteries alone each year. $28.3 million was spent in Alberta approved casinos in 1979; up over 33% in two years. Horse racing pulls in the biggest crowds and the largest bets; its statistics are astronomical. (It has been said that Albertans spend more per capita than any people in North America.)
Besides the legal, illegal betting is estimated at $250 million in this province. No matter how you figure it, that is a lot of money, especially when you consider where much of it is going. A 1962 Atlantic Monthly article said, "Gamblers look upon it simply as taking a charge. But they are taking a chance which the nation and its economy cannot afford. They are putting dimes and dollars day by day into a vast stream of cash which finances most illegal underworld activities. (Here in Canada? Yes, Sir!)
Some argue that legalized gambling ends the illegal. Actually, studs in the United States indicate that the states where gambling is legal also have the highest amount of illegal gambling. The U.S. Justice Department's Organized Crime Section says, "Legal gambling creates a whole new (gambling) market, but the effect on illegal is negligible." Illegal bookmakers are still popular, because they offer better odds than state-run operations, and the winners are completely tax-free.
The Popularity Of Gambling
Gambling has never been so popular! Never has such a large percentage of our population been so addicted to it. Never have governments been so pleased that their citizens arc so mesmerized.
The Greeks claimed that gambling was detrimental to the state; today we use it to support the state. The Egyptians used to call it effeminate, because it turned working men into lazy louts; today the welfare leach often cashes his cheque at the track. Tertullian denied that dice players could be Christians; today churches head the betting parade and make fortunes off the weaknesses of betting fools. England once outlawed gambling entirely because wise officials could see what a terrible effect it was having on the people. Today England is one of the worst countries in the world for gambling debts.
One has said, "Swindling, forgery, theft--every crime that extreme necessity and outright desperation can suggest to a man who has lost all the moral ties--follows in the train of gambling.”
John Cotton said that gambling was "a witching disease that makes some scratch the head, while others as if bitten by a tarantula, are laughing themselves to death."
US President Washington said of gambling:
“This is a vice which is productive of every possible evil, equally injurious to the morals and health of its votaries. It is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief. It has been the ruin of many worthy families, the loss of many a man's honour, and the cause of suicide. To all those who enter the lists, it's usually fascinating. The successful gamester pushes his good fortune, till it is overtaken by a reverse. The losing gamester, in hopes of retrieving past misfortunes, goes on from bad to worse, till grown desperate, he pushes at everything and loses his all. In a word, few gain by this abominable practice, while thousands are injured."
A former Supreme Court Justice accurately noted that "gambling" is a general evil. It leads to vicious inclinations, the destruction of morals, abandonment of industry and honest employment, and a loss of self-control and respect..."
You Can't Win At Gambling
Despite all the warnings of wise and good men, billions of dollars are wagered annually. How much of all this wealth is returned to the average foolish bettor through winnings? Ask Earnest Blanche, author of You Can't Win. Mr. Blanche studied 256 horse races. If he had bet on the favorite horse in every race to win, he would have lost his shirt. If he bet the favorite to show, he would have lost even more, and if his money went to the favorite simply to place, he still would have lost money.
The Irish Sweepstakes is perhaps the best known lottery. Did you know that only 40% of the proceeds go towards prizes, and that the chance of winning is 1/305,000? The reason why we see more and more of these lotteries is because there is no way that the sponsor can lose. Our biggest Canadian lotteries turn over a meager profit of 20% only because millions of dollars are spent on advertising each year. Even lowly bingos make a 50% profit for the accursed organizations which sponsor them.
In a small factory in our city, 800,000 paper slot machines ("Nevadas" or "pull tickets") are printed weekly. The owner of the operation, a man we might call "an expert," says, "I know you can't win if you play habitually." In our province $1.2 million is thrown into "Nevadas" and only pocket money is won in return.
Christian, if you know of someone who has broken even over a long period of time with lottery tickets, raffles, horses, football pools. or any other kind of gambling, you have found a rare individual. If for no other reason but the soundness of Christian stewardship, no saint of God ought to gamble.
The Danger Of Gambling
Earlier this year one prominent church leader spoke in general terms on the evils of gambling and then tried desperately (hypocritically) to defend his church's long time association with bingos. He said that there is a sharp distinction between gambling as a relatively harmless diversion and gambling with the specific aim of "making money fast through chance..."
I fail to see his point. 95% of bingo players play for the money they can win, but more. Someone should ask this gentleman if he also advocates an occasional visit to the pornography shop for recreational purposes. Why not shoot a little "speed" or give your two year old daughter a shot of bourbon every other day? Just as it's a fact that the disco leads many into immorality; it's a fact that gambling on a small scale leads many to gambling on a big scale.
Ask the local members of Gamblers Anonymous--it's a habit and sin which always begins small. Every saint in Canada should oppose the desires of professional gamblers to expose the young to the "pleasures" of gambling, and while they're at it they should fight off-tract betting for the same reason. Aren't 50,000 addicted Canadian gamblers enough?
Christian, Don't Gamble!
Why shouldn't the Christian gamble? Because it has the same relationship to theft that dueling has to murder. It used to be legal for two fools to kill each other with pistols or swords, yet at the same time it was murder for one man to do it to an unarmed opponent.. Gambling is a legal theft. When will wise governments see that, like dueling, gambling is detrimental to society?
It is morally wrong because it is an attempt to get something for nearly nothing. It leads men to get that for which they did not work. It destroys initiative and creates laziness. It is completely contrary to God's Word.
And when will someone see that government sponsored gambling, lotteries and horse races, are really a regressive tax on people who, many times, can't afford to pay any more? Many of Canada's poorest citizens spend hundreds of dollars gambling that end up with the government, yet if these people were taxed directly there would be a cry for revolution. Why can't people see that this is nothing but a tax on idiocy and foolishness? It's the opposite of income tax; it's out-go tax.
There is only one good way to open a lottery pouch, and that's with dynamite. There is only one good throw of the dice, and that's to throw them away. There's only one way to cut a deck of cards, and it's with a hatchet.
The Christian gambler is financing sinners, hurting his family, perhaps destroying his marriage, ruining his testimony and shaming his Saviour. He is displaying to the world that his heart is in earthly rather than in Heavenly treasures. He is not permitting the Lord to have His way with his life and future, but in a round about way he is asking the Devil to be his guide and benefactor.
This writer has never yet met a Christian gambler who was consistent in his tithing to God. Gambling and the withholding of God's tithe are cousins in the theft family.
Whether it is matching for a coke or the coffee, a football pool, a dice game, a lottery ticket, a pool game or the casinos, it all has the same principle and leads to the same end.
Reader, if you are unsaved and addicted to gambling or anything else, let me point you to the Answer. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to redeem souls from the bondage of sin in every form. He is the Saviour. He can deliver you from your lusts and even yourself, if you'll just permit Him. If the Lord has convicted your heart about these things, then admit your helplessness and sinfulness, and turning from them, put your faith in the sacrifice of Christ. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24)