On July 9, 2000 the Ark. Casino Corp. submitted their constitutional amendment and signature petitions to the Secretary of State.
In other years I have dealt largely with the practical and societal reasons for not allowing gambling. I assumed that Christians knew the moral reasons to oppose it. I will do that this time, too, but will also deal with the scriptural and ethical reasons to oppose it because I’ve found a lot of Christians don’t have a clue about the moral implications of gambling.
These two lessons may be totally irrelevant to you. If so, please bear with us. A lot of other people need it. And maybe you do too.
Consider these facts & statistics so that we can have some grasp of the importance of understanding what the Bible has to say about the problem.
America is on a gambling binge.
There is a new outbreak of this invisible addiction sweeping thru our country like a locust plague.
The lottery has become the #1 American fantasy.
We know that over $500 billion is wagered legally, annually. Estimates range up to $1 trillion when illegal gaming is added. Best statistics say there are ca. 10 mil. compulsive gamblers in US, more than alcoholics…
Don’t think it is anything new. Gambling played a prominent role in early American history.
Columbus - boats filled with sailors who gambled away their time & money with dice & cards.
- Brought their gambling interests in & it took root in the new nation.
- The British gov. in 1612 ran a lottery to assist the new settlement at Jamestown.
- The father of our nation, G. Washington, wisely declared: “Gambling is the child of avarice (greed), the brother of iniquity, & the father of mischief.”
We agree. However, Geo. kept a full diary of his own winnings & losses. He evidently learned by experience.
- In 1776 the 1st Continental Congress sold lottery tickets to finance the revolution.
- Pres. Wash. bought the first lottery ticket to finance the new capitol, called “Federal City”, now known as Washington, D.C.
- Our nation was founded on a lottery, revolution funded by a lottery, our capitol built with a lottery.
Thru long years of gov. sponsored gambling, the church was silent.
< Gambling also had some detractors - some among the Puritans, Quakers, Baptists & Methodists ..
- Church was growing more liberal. Even supportive of lotteries.
- The Catholic church to this day has had an uninterrupted interest in gambling & lotteries to finance its operations.
The church struggled with the issue then (as it does now) because there is no verse that says, “Thou shalt not gamble.”
- Cotton Mather, early Puritan preacher, preached against gambling as the denial of the providential control of God.
- Yet, the prof. of ethics at Harvard, Wm. Ames, defended gambling (Harvard’s bldgs. were financed with lotteries.)
The U. of Penns.’ yearly budget was raised thru gambling.
- There was a protest by none other than Frances Scott Key, author of our national anthem. Member of Am. Episcopal Church.
- He introduced a resolution to the General Convention of 1817, calling on them to condemn gambling as being “inconsistent with Christian sobriety, dangerous to the morals of the members of the church, & peculiarly unbecoming to the character of Christians.” ‘unnecessary’
But they did denounce it as socially harmful & inconsistent with the Biblical view of God & the Christian’s understanding of stewardship
Some evangelical activism began to attack this gov. sponsored gambling. Under this attack, & because of the increasing corruption bro’t on by gambling in 1894 it had disappeared from America.
Even public gambling of any sort was stopped cold because of John Wannamaker. He was the Postmaster General of the US & he barred “all letters, parcels, postcards, circulars, lists of drawings, tickets & other material referring to lotteries” from the mail. Came to a halt in 1894.
Until 1964 - it was reintroduced by the state of New Hampshire, the 1st state to offer a lottery.
G. This drive for legalized gambling has paralleled the general trend toward permissiveness - sex, pornography, drugs, materialism…
H. Gambling expenditures each year exceed amounts spent on books, films, amusements, music, sporting events & entertainment combined!
1. 92 mil. households visit casinos
2. 10% of all money earned in America is thrown away in gambling.
J. The future is bright for the gambling industry.
1. they’re adding theme parks. Mom & dad can gamble while kids play & a new generation is initiated… Attract children so they can turn them into gamblers ASAP
2. 90% of teenagers have gambled.
3. college students are 8 times more likely to develop gambling addictions than their parents because of the atmosphere of acceptance
K. The poor are the most affected.
1. People earning less than $10,000 buy more lottery tickets than any other income group.
L. Gambling is linked to organized crime at every level.
1. FBI reports that gambling earnings are largely laundered thru pornography & prostitution…
2. You can now use your credit card on the internet to gamble…
...compounding your indebtedness even further…
II. A Definition of Gambling
A. Gambling is not “taking a risk” - there is risk in gambling, but that is too simplistic a definition.
1. There is risk in everything in life… Life is a risk because we don’t know what tomorrow may bring! (Jas. 4:14- “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while & then vanished away.”)
2. It is an uncertain world & we understand the risk…
3. There are many legitimate endeavors with risk tied to them, but they are not gambling because the risk is connected to reasonable, wise, and manageable processes & rewards.
5. Business investments… risk in any kind of business…
6. Spend a fortune to get a college edu. -
7. Stock market - make wise investment (just buying into a business)
a. Investment has risk but is manageable based on reputable & rational wisdom…
b. Bought a house… & the value may go up or down….
8. The risks of life offer you some measure of control. You rely on track records, experience, expertise, market reports, etc.
9. Where there is reasonable, manageable risk, there is no gambling.
B. Gamble, gambler, gambling - are related to the word “game”.
1. Gambling is game - not based on skill or reason or anything controllable - it is based on sheer chance, random luck.
2. It is not like competing for a prize thru speed or skill or business…
3. It is an appeal to sheer chance.
C. Def. - “Gambling is an activity in which a person risks something of value (usually money) to forces of chance completely beyond his control or any rational expectation in hopes of winning something of greater value.”
D. The foolish thing about chance is thinking that if you do something long enough, the odds get better.
1. Not so. There are no controllable elements. Odds are not reduced by repetition. Luck never changes its odds.
III. This appeal to dumb luck or sheer chance has devastating effects.
A. It provides great wealth for a handful of people at the expense of the masses - usually the poor. (lowest income brackets spend 4 times as much as any others)
1. Gambling is the exploitation of the poor, uneducated, undisciplined...
2. It is amazing that a gov. for the benefit of the people should so exploit the poor to the degree that it does… (voluntary taxes!)
3. On one hand the gov. constantly taxes the rich & requires business to provide benefits for the poor and then, in a clear act of hypocrisy, runs a lottery that exploits the poor…
a. ...increasing their debt… It demeans work… robs families of their resources…
b. Breaks up marriages… leads to suicides… & produces crime.
B. Argument is that if we bring in gambling it will build up business ...
1. No! In Atlantic City (since legalized gambling in 1976) its population has shrunk 20%, unemployment is higher, crimes are up 380%, police force has doubled, half of the 2100 businesses have closed, & 4 of the past 6 mayors have been indicted for corruption (3 are presently serving sentences)
2. Gambling doesn’t alleviate social ills - it generates them.
C. Gambling is a magnet for crime. (New Jersey Casino Control Commission)
1. Every crime report in gaming areas shows crime to be up…
2. Central City, CO doubled its police force (per Atlantic City)
3. Assault, rape, prostitution, & drug dealing esp.
4. Because people need more money to gamble they steal, etc.
5. Las Vegas claims one of the nation’s highest crime rates.
6. Nev. has the highest incarceration rate in the nation.
7. 40% of the felons jailed in NV are from out of state! Gambling invites them in!
8. One in 66 households in NV filed for bankruptcy (Highest in nation)
9. NV has highest consumption per capita of alcohol in the nation. (Casinos give away alcohol-drinkers spend more…)
10. Stats are endless….
D. In spite of all this most see it as a harmless past time… we’re a free people! Don’t tell me what to do!
IV. Bible Case
A. Christians have backed off the gambling issue because there is no clear verse in the Bible.
1. …because it’s not an evident sin. It’s clandestine. (Can tell a drunk walking down the street-but a gambler has no visible evidence)
2. … because of great ignorance of the industry.
3. … because of ignorance of biblical principles that apply to gambling.
4. … & because there is so much materialism among Christians that a lot of them would like to win the lottery.
5. This kind of apathy only fuels the fire…
B. Just a few broad biblical tho’ts that we’ll expand on next week.
Gambling is immoral because:
1. It drains the economic provision that God makes for people.
a. It is God who gives us the power to get wealth (Deu. 8:18) & He who provides everything for us. Gambling drains that!
2. It undermines philanthropy. Actually reverses it.
a. Instead of giving to the poor, it takes from the poor…
b. If the poor gamble, they suffer. If you gamble, they suffer.
3. It erodes the biblical work ethic that God ordained & honored...
a. Six days shall you labor & do all your work…
b. Eph. 4:28- “Let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”
c. & the Amer. work ethic is getting worse as we speak… demanding more & more as they work less… & the gambling fantasy seduces more and more.
d. Amer. dream used to be that if you worked hard enough you could make a comfortable life for yourself.
e. Today, it is win the lottery.
4. ...because it promotes irrationality.
a. Christianity promotes rational thinking. America has always promoted rational thinking, using the mind
b. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
c. Rationality is a God-given distinction that makes us human rather than animal. Gambling promotes irrationality, fantasy, dependence on luck instead of God.
d. Gambling promotes despair - there is no achievement in the end
 Exercise your work ethic & you’ll produce rewards….
 The irrationality of gambling leads to nothingness & despair.
5. ...Because it preys on the weak & poor,
a. Often the elderly & immature youth who see no consequences
b. Preys on the undisciplined & pushes them deeper into debt & dependence & virtual slavery.
C. Here are some specific sins (Eliminate the sins & gambling disappears)
1. Gambling is built on the sin of MATERIALISM.
a. The whole appeal is getting rich… more…
b. I Tim. 6:10- “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.”
c. Love of money is another term for materialism…
Gambling is a materialistic lust…
2. Gambling is built on the sin of GREED.
a. Built on the idea that what you have is not enough.
b. It appeals to greed with outrageous prizes. Why not spread it out among a lot of people? Larger the prize, the more buy tickets.
c. They couldn’t make the appeal if the prize wasn’t outrageous.
d. Proverbs is replete with references to greed.
e. Lk 12:15: “Beware & be on your guard against every form of greed; for even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions”
3. Gambling is built on the sin of DISCONTENT.
a. It is the opposite of Phil. 4:11 - “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
b. The one thing John the baptist told the soldiers was: “Be content with your wages.” (Lk. 3:14)
4. Gambling is built on EXPLOITATION.
a. One winner - millions of losers.
b. It is subtle form of thievery to entice people to give you their money - “Thou shalt not steal.”
c. It exploits because it breaks the golden rule: “Do unto others…” No gambler wants others to do to him what he is trying to do to them.
5. Gambling is built on the sin of DISTRUST OF GOD.
a. Faith says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)
b. God provides work, savings, wise investments, reasonable risk that is a part of life.
c. the gambler trusts in luck.
6. Gambling is built on the sin of IRRESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP.
a. Have to be careful even in laying up treasures on earth - for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. You want to lay up treasures in heaven.
b. Throwing it away in an appeal to sheer chance is pure folly.
c. It is irresponsible stewardship of what God has given us.
We encourage you to trust God - not only for your salvation but for every provision in life.
Now there are 37 states with lotteries & Wash. D.C. makes 38…
There are over 500 casinos in America, most on Indian land where they are allowed to do about anything tax free ...
In 1974 a Gallup poll indicated 61% of Americans gambled, wagering $47.4 billion annually.
- a. In 1989, 71% were wagering $246 billion.
b. In 1992, - $330 billion
c. In 1995, 95% gambled. 82% lottery. 75% slot machines. 50% bet on dogs or horses. 44% on cards. 34% on Bingo. 26% on sporting events. 74% frequented casinos.
d. 89% approved of gambling. (6% disapproved but gambled anyway!) [Interesting - but a lot of us do things we don’t approve of]