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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Gambling

David Stone

Available in tract form. Contact the Editor.

After being condemned as a social evil for years, gambling has now become an acceptable practice. State lotteries and "church bingo" have promoted and dignified gambling so as to make it appear as a harmless past-time, a respectable recreation. Pressing financial needs and the reports of multi-million dollar lottery winners have whetted the appetites of many who hope to win a fortune.


It is estimated that the yearly amount of bets in the U.S. equals one-third of the gross national product. Two-thirds of all Americans participate in gambling. One of the nation’s leading authorities on gambling is Washington attorney, Rufus King, who was Chairman of the American Bar Association and counsellor for the Presidents' Crime Commission. In his book Gambling and Organized Crime, he says, "...there seems to be general agreement that the total sum spent annually by Americans in all forms of illegal gambling (the yearly `handle), runs in the range of $15 to $25 billion (that was in 1969). Some reputable estimates double those figures. But, let us say $20 billion! If the 'take' of the gambling promoter amounts to one-third of this, (and the patron in illegal gaming assuredly gets no breaks), the income shared by those who control this form of criminal activity would be between $6,000,000,000 and $7,000,000,000."


He then goes on to illustrate the significance of a billion dollars by saying, "...if you piled a million dollars in new thousand dollar bill one upon another, you would have a handsome stack 8 inches high; if you did the same thing with a billion dollars, the stack would extend 111 feet above the top of the Washington Monument."


Gambling is a much more serious problem than many suspect! Based on reports from Johns Hopkins University, in 1980 pathological gambling was certified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. In the mid-fifties the Gamblers Anonymous organization was established to help people deal with their gambling problems. In a recent phone conversation with their representative of the Cincinnati chapter, I was told that they get from 12 to 15 new members each week from the Cincinnati area alone!


Of course, most gamblers never seek help, nor do they consider their condition as abnormal or their actions as morally wrong. It is a "closet problem" that few people ever talk about. The highly respected magazine, "Today's Health" said, "Gambling is America's most unrecognized social cancer. It is unrecognized because most of it is done secretly and goes undetected, thus, it never becomes an awareness."


I.  GAMBLING IS HARMFUL TO ONESELF


1. It defiles our character.


Henry W. Grady, in an editorial in the Atlanta Constitution on Sept. 20, 1884, said:


"Never gamble. Of all the vices that enthral men, this is the worst, the strongest, and most insidious. Outside of the morality of it, it is the poorest investment, the poorest business, the poorest fun. No man is safe who plays at all. It is easiest never to play. I never knew a gentleman and man of business who did not regret the time and money he wasted in it. A man who plays poker is unfit for every other business on earth."


Judge Michael L. McKinley, past Chief Justice of the Cook County (MO) Criminal Court, said, "Gambling has grown gigantically as a business which produces nothing but grafters, embezzlers, forgers, confidence men, pickpockets, burglars, and bandits." You can think what you will about gambling, but those are the facts!


Before the casinos opened in Atlantic City, there were an estimated dozen prostitutes — after only a few weeks, more than a hundred were counted. Also, the city's rescue mission had to quadruple its bed capacity. It is a well-known fact that the most vile members of society participate in gambling. That alone should tell us something!


2. It destroys our compassion.


The Bible teaches us to love one another, which means that we should gladly sacrifice to meet the needs of others. But, gambling puts self-interest first. It builds resentment and makes enemies. It removes love from society and creates a spirit of unconcern for others.


3. It develops the hope of getting something for nothing.


Gambling destroys initiative. Instead of rolling up his sleeves and going to work, the gambler hopes to live off the misfortune of others. This attitude of something for nothing is destroying America.


Tom Anderson, in the publication "Straight Talk," tells of the rangers in Mount Rainer National Park who cautions the visitors against feeding the animals, He says, "The ranger explains that the deer grow accustomed to visitors' handouts and lose the ability to fend for themselves. Bears, he says, come to believe that free food is their due — and become grouchy and violent if they don't get it. Chipmunks and squirrels congregate where the handouts are supplied and thus, upset the balance of nature.


The 'balance' of our country is likewise being upset: The leeches are taking over." He then goes on to say, "One reason the welfare rolls grows is because it is more profitable for millions of our people to stay on welfare than to work. There are millions of third generation welfarers whose grandparents, parents, as well as themselves, have never found a ‘suitable job.' There is no suitable job for a bum. Our government has made bums out of millions of our people."


I haven't forgotten my subject — it's gambling, not welfare. But, the fact is that they both lead to the dangerous attitude of wanting something for nothing. The welfarers consider it their right to live at the expense of others and the gambler hopes to prosper on the losses of others. By the way, gambling has put more than its share on welfare!


The Bible says, "that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thess. 3:10) and "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Gen. 3:19). God intends that we earn our living by honest labor.


II. GAMBLING IS HURTFUL TO SOCIETY


1. It destroys families.


The gambler loses, children go hungry, wives do without, bills go unpaid, tension builds, arguments increase, and eventually the family is destroyed. The gambler doesn't have time for his wife and children. He would rather be at the race-track or the poker table than with his family. The compulsion to gamble destroys a man's compassion for his family to the point that he is willing to neglect them to satisfy his own carnal desires.


2. It divides friends.


The Bible teaches us that friendship is a precious thing that is to be carefully guarded. But gambling causes you to take advantage of others. Your friend becomes your victim. He's look upon as a villain standing between you and something you want. Even if the gambler could control his feelings toward others he cannot keep his victims from becoming bitter toward him. Our concern for others should far exceed our desire for financial gain.


3. It decreases respect for the law.


When pressed for funds people will resort to all sorts of illegal activities to finance their gambling habit. They will steal from their loved ones, write bad checks, and even commit armed robbery.


Also, those who promote and prosper from gambling will go to any lengths to protect their interest. The "Presidents' Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice" in 1967 reported that "law enforcement officials agree almost unanimously that gambling is the greatest source of revenue for organized crime...Estimates of the annual intake have varied from $7 to $50 billion...Analysis of organized criminal betting operations indicates that the profit is as high as one-third of the gross revenue."


Of course, some think that the answer is to legalize gambling and put it under the guidance and control of government. But, that isn't the answer. Such foolishness only further corrupts the government.


Rufus King said:


 "No public authority can long withstand the pressures and corrupting effects of legalized gambling enterprises...Lotteries began to emerge after the turn of the 19th century as what the Supreme Court was prompted to call a 'widespread pestilence;' corrupting the legislators and public officials who authorized and administered them and subjecting the public to a variety of increasingly outrageous frauds and scandals...Nearly every large community had its much-publicized bankruptcies, embezzlements and suicides attributable to profligate spending for lottery tickets...


"Widely in the last three decades and occasionally today, the gambler-gangster has managed to hit an even higher target: instead of corrupting and capturing local police forces, he has been able to gain control of local governments...


When Kentucky closed out coin-machine gambling in 1966 by a new state law, the gamblers made so strong a come-back in the next session of the General Assembly (under a new Governor and with new faces in the State House in Frankfort) that only a spirited press campaign coupled with rumors that bribes had reached a choking seven figure aggregate, enabled anti-gambling forces to effect a cliff-hanger rescue of the new law.


"The Kefauver Committee exposed patterns like this in small cities such as Covington, Ky., and Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley which it chose almost as random samples."


If you think the promoters of gambling aren't serious about this matter, listen to what Mr. King says: "To attribute half the gang killings and mob violence of the forties and fifties to battles over control of this gambling empire would be a very conservative speculation."


III. GAMBLING IS HEINOUS TO GOD


1. It disobeys the commandments.


It is written in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not covet..." (Ex. 20:17). Our legal desires are limited to our necessities. The Bible says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have..." (Heb. 13:5).


The ambition for worldly goods has destroyed many lives and is strictly forbidden by the Lord. That doesn't mean that it is sinful to prosper. God has often blessed his people with material goods, because they gave him top priority. But, that doesn't give us the right to seek wealth. We are to serve God and then be satisfied with what He gives us.


2. It denies God's law of order.


According to the word of God, work comes before wealth, sowing before reaping. But, the gambler seeks to reap what others have sown. Of course, not wanting to do things God's way has always been a characteristic of the world. When parents teach their children to gamble, they are teaching them to ignore what God demands. And this disrespect for God then affects every other area of their lives.


3. It deadens sensitivity toward spiritual matters.


While our precious Lord was being crucified, wicked men cast lots for His garments. Their desire for personal gain blinded them as to what was really important. When a person is consumed by self-interest, as is the gambler, he will never be sensitive to the will of God for his life.


4. It distracts from the important things of life.


Solomon said, "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing...." (Prov. 10:2). What seems to be gain is a mirage when God's law is violated. No one ever truly prospers when he disobeys God's Word.


As stewards of God's property, we have no right to gamble with that which has been entrusted to our care. If we waste our time, neglect our responsibilities, offend our neighbors, and squander our goods, we cannot expect God to bless us,


Think about the number of missionaries that could be supported with the money that is spent on gambling. If 50 billion dollars annually are spent on gambling, that amount could be used to support 2 million missionary families in the amount of $25,000 per year!


In conclusion, let me remind you that prevention is easier than cure. A world of pain and misery could be avoided if folks would steer clear of the gambling trap. Whether it’s matching for a coke, playing bingo, betting on a ball game, or buying a lottery ticket, we should refuse to participate.


It isn't the amount of money involved, it's the principle. Don't be fooled! "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but, he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:7-8). You can be sure that following Christ is no gamble. No one is a loser who receives Christ as Saviour and follows Him as Lord.