Healing from Gambling     

  For Jack, a video poker machine  was the answer to all of his money problems.  He would sit in front of the machine for hours, every chance he could get, pouring in money, sometimes $120  a day.
He said, "It was the thought of easy money.  It is probably hard for a lot of people to understand  but it is the constant thought that the next game might be the one."  It was this thought that kept Jack coming back.  Soon checks started bouncing and Jack's life was thrown into a nightmare, but he continued to play. He said,  "you get in so deep, it is hard to get out.  I just kept hoping I'd hit it big."  But he never did.  When reality came crashing in, Jack was  more than $14,000.00 in debt. He says, "I'll be paying for this the rest of my life.

        Gambling is seductive    Proponents want you to believe that it really does profit the communities.  But the only people it profits are crooked politicians and the gambling industry.  Did you know that Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries?  Casinos have a profit margin of somewhere between 85 and 95 percent.

        Gambling fuels materialism    Gambling's strongest appeal is to the inordinate materialism that drives some peoples lives.   First Timothy 6:9 states that people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. Focus on the first part of the verse,  "people who want to get rich" refers to people who are DRIVEN to get rich, who are obsessed with having more.
            The publication, American Demographics, reported on a survey of people who gamble in casinos.  It stated that "winning money is the most important reason why people say they visit a casino."
(May, 1997, p.37) The   Casino de Montreal in Quebec has discovered that more people will play the slot machines if the grand prize is a car.  They are consumed with an irrational desire to have that beautiful car.  Sometimes  these kinds of people will gamble away everything they have and everything they can get their hands on for one more change to get something of material value.

            Materialism is nothing  less than idolatry.  It is placing money and the things money can buy before God.  There is a story about  one hundred decoys being place on  Izu island in Japan to attract endangered albatrosses and encourage them to breed.  For more than 2 years, a 5 year-old albatross named Deko tried to get a wooden albatross to be his mate by building fancy nests and fighting off rivals. He spent his days faithfully by her side. A researcher said of Deko,  "He seems to have no desire to date real birds."   So it is with people who put their affections upon the little god of materialism rather than upon the God of the Universe.

              The Bible gives the antidote to materialism in 1 Timothy 6:6-7,  that "Godliness with contentment is a great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it."

        Gambling contributes to crime    This is not a fiction, but a fact. When gambling was legalized in New Jersey, crime more than tripled from 1976 to 1989. William Webster, former FBI director, said, "I don't really see how one can expect to run legalized gambling anywhere without serious problems. Gambling is still the largest source of revenue for organized crime."   In a recent study on the effects of gambling reveals that "except for murder, every major crime tracked by the FBI goes up dramatically within four years of a casino's arrival in a community.  Rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft have all increased at an alarming rate.  Nationally, crime rates are 8% higher in counties blessed with casino gambling."

         Gambling exploits people.    Gambling is an anonymous form of wealth redistribution;  There is no money to win except what other people have lost.  Whatever someone wins through gambling is won at the cost of someone else's loss,  perhaps, even the loss of a child's milk or shoes.  People may say  that they do not gamble in order to take what someone else has,  but it is only by other people losing that some people win.  Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that those who gamble are often trying to get the money that belonged to those who could least afford to lose it.  It is an established fact that the poorest people in society are the most likely to gamble.  A study in California showed that 4 out of 10 lottery players were unemployed.  The Des Moines Registrar  reported that lottery ticket sales surge when welfare checks arrive. One of the most scandalous features of the gambling industry, engaged in by many of our state governments, is the vigorous promotion of gambling among the poor, less educated and senior adult populations.  It prays on others by peddling a false hope.

        Gambling undermines the work ethic.  Gambling's doctrine is simple:  luck is a better way to make it in this world than hard work and investment.  Gambling says if you want a new car, if you want a better home, if you want an exotic vacation,  betting is better than working.  Getting rich quick, getting ahead without sacrifice is the underlying propaganda of the gambling industry.   But this flies in the face of God's intent for humans.  Exodus 20:9 says,  "Six days you shall labor and do all your work."  And Ephesians 4:28 states,  "He who is stealing must steal no longer, BUT MUST WORK, DOING SOMETHING USEFUL WITH HIS OWN HANDS."   Work is good.  It can add to our dignity and self worth.

        Gambling ruins lives.   The overwhelming evidence from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission demonstrates a direct link between problem gambling and divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy and suicide.   More than 15 million people in this country meet the  technical criteria   of a gambling problem.  Lest you think  what I'm talking about happens to people you don't know, think again.  There was a friend of my father-in-law  who owned a successful body shop in our home town.  He started dabbling at gambling. He started going to Las Vegas. he became addicted. His company started downhill.  He incurred horrendous debts. His family disintegrated. He eventually went  to a mobile home he had on some property, turned on the gas, and blew the mobile home up with himself inside.  One of the members of the study commission, James Dobson,  writes that gambling "is especially dangerous to the young, who are enticed by exciting and risky behaviors.  85% of our young people are already gambling on everything from card games to sports teams to casinos and lotteries. Worse, more than 15% have been shown to be problem gamblers."

    The gambling industry knows that if you can make it appealing to the young you've got clientele for life.  The folks in Las Vegas are no dummies.  Why else would they try and turn the casinos into family places.  Is it because they love families?  Hardly!  They love the money families will spend. The Bible says in 1 Timothy  6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

    The price of Gambling is steep. Jesus asked, "For what is a man  profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Mt.15:26)

        What can you do if you have a problem with gambling?    You can't make any progress until you admit it.  Tell someone.  Get help.  Many churches have self-help groups for addicts of all kinds.
Check out the sources below.

        Gambling is a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem.   Check out   How to Get to Heaven From wherever you are...    on this website.

        If you are concerned about the social problems of gambling, contact your representatives and express your convictions about this evil in the land.

Sources for help:

     The National Council on Problem Gambling,www.ncpgambling.org    Phone:  800-522-4700
      Gamblers Anonymous,   www.gamblersanonymous.org  Phone: 213-386-8789
      Gam-Anon,  Box 570157, Whitestone, NY. 11357;   Phone  718-352-1571