The Religious and Societal Perception of Gambling

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Since gambling is becoming even more a part of our modern world, either through the internet or through gambling institutions (casinos), it seems a fair task to try to determine if gambling is an ethical act. The view that gambling has obtained to our modern culture is a negative one. This Research will define gambling, look at the types of gambling, review the perspectives of gambling (biblical view, sociological view and Catholic view), review the ethical issues within gambling and look at some ethical systems view of gambling. According to Webster’s dictionary, Webster defines gambling as “ play games of chance for money or some other stake; to take a risk in order to gain some advantage; to be, wager; an act of undertaking involving risk of loss. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary [unabridged] p. 932). 2. Gambling is defined as: Placing something of value at risk in the hopes of gaining something of greater value. (Potenza MN). 3.Gambling involves taking on risk with no plausible expectation of making a profit. (Angel, J. J., & McCabe, D. M.). In this analysis, gambling is to not only be regarded as just a game as in definition one, therefore, in order not to create any ambiguity in the paper, the term 'gambling' will be defined as: taking a chance or risk, either betting or wagering possessions in hopes of gaining more.

Types of Gambling

Types of gambling to remove any ambiguity that could be created by the word 'type' in this section means the different classifications and categories of gambling. Gambling games can be generally divided into two groups, chance-based games and skill-based games. In chance-based gambling players have no way to affect or influence the result, which is completely dependent on random events. Chance-Based (100% dependent on luck). Slot Machine Play is among the most common forms of chance-based gambling. For chance-based gambling games, game results are unpredictable and are based entirely on random events. Players have no way of influencing or controlling how the game ends and whether they win or lose their bet. While in skill-based gambling players can use betting strategies and techniques based on related knowledge or can play based on the choices and behaviour of the other players. Skill-Based (players have some influence, but chance is still a factor in the outcome). Poker is the most popular type of skill-based gambling where players compete against each other instead of the house or casino dealer. For skill-based games, players benefit from previous game play experiences. Techniques and tactics can be used, and some methods of play can be effective more than once when the very same games are played. Skill-based gambling is still deemed gambling, so the outcome of the game remains largely out of the influence of each participant / player Commercial gambling is not a single diverse activity but takes many forms instead. Although there is no widely accepted definition, gambling types that are generally recognized include lotteries, sports or horse betting, bingo, EGMs (Electronic Gambling Machines), card games, and chance-based casino games such as roulette and slot machines. Such types of gambling may be provided in centralized gambling facilities or via the Internet; they include several variations and combinations. Forms of gambling have a common core – the chance at winning something of greater value than the amount at stake – but differ in terms of structural characteristics (Abt, Smith, & Christiansen, 1985, pp. 39–44; Parke, Parke, & Blaszczynski, 2016) and the experiences they offer the gambler (Binde, 2013). Raffles and lotteries popularity, for example, is primarily to place a small stake for the chance of winning a large amount of money; bingo often has a social dimension; sports betting has an actual or perceived skill element; and EGMs (Electronic Gambling Machines) allow gamblers to participate in lengthy play sessions in which small stakes are made repeatedly in rapid succession. Which may cause a dissociative state of mind.

Biblical View on Gambling

What is the perception of gambling in the Bible? Was gambling prohibited? Or could it be acceptable for no reason? Understanding what the Bible says about gambling will help to determine whether gambling is ethical, or it is not. While the Bible does not mention gambling directly, it does mention events of 'luck' or 'chance' In Leviticus, for instance, casting lots are used for a sacrificial goat and the scapegoat to be chosen. Joshua cast lots to determine land allocation to the various tribes. Nehemiah cast lots to decide who was to live within Jerusalem's walls. To determine the replacement for Judas, the disciples drew lots. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

What would the Bible say about casinos and lotteries? Casinos use all types of marketing schemes to encourage players to gamble as much money as possible. They frequently offer cheap or even free alcohol which promotes drunkenness, and therefore reduces the ability for gamblers to make wise choices. Everything in a casino is brilliantly manipulated for taking money in large amounts and giving nothing in return, except momentary and empty pleasures. Lotteries are trying to portray themselves to fund education and/or public services. Though, studies show that lottery players are typically those who can least afford to spend money on lottery tickets. 'Getting rich quickly is too strong a challenge to ignore for those who are desperate. The chances of winning are infinitely small, and many people's lives are being destroyed. Can lottery winnings, please, God? A lot of people are said to be playing a lotto or gambling so they can give money to the church or some other good cause. While this may be a justified reason, the fact is that very few people use gambling winnings for godly intentions. Research shows that most of the lottery winners are in an even worse financial condition a few years after winning the lotto than they were before winning it.

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Few if at all, really are planning on giving money to a good cause. Moreover, God does not need our money to fund His work throughout the globe. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” God is eternal, then through honest means he will provide to the needs of his church. Do you believe that God would be honoured by getting donated drug money or money that was stolen from a robbery? Of course not! Neither does God need or want money that was 'stolen' by the weak in the pursuit for riches. First Timothy 6:10 says, 'For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 'Hebrews 13:5 says, keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Matthew 6:24 declares, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I concluded that although the Scripture does not directly forbid betting, gambling, playing the lotto. However, the Bible warns us to stay away from the love of money in (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). The Scriptures also warn us to stay away from efforts to 'make wealthy easily' (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10). Gambling is certainly based on the lust for money and undoubtedly entices people with the idea of fast and easy wealth so it is unethical in this perspective.

Sociological View on Gambling

How does the sociologist see Gambling? Sociology of gambling examines and discusses the most popular and influential theories of gambling and the many research studies that have been performed to validate and discredit gambling. They believe that an entire generation of young people have reached adulthood with a sense of the acceptance and support of gambling as a source of entertainment and fun, e.g. playing all fours at home or simple games as a dollar throw in school. Young people have evidenced a higher level of gambling related problems. Even though a large proportion of any society participates in gambling and that gambling is continuing to affect public policy in many jurisdictions, sociologists have not treated gambling as behaviour worthy of serious investigation. Blaise Pascal said that in the face of uncertainty, we should try to believe that God exists, because, if he does, then we stand to gain a great deal, while if not, we stand to lose little and this is the ultimate gamble. Sociology of gambling is about the cultural and social implications of gambling. The relationship between age and gambling and gambling addiction; the social implication of state sponsored gambling and an aging population; social and psychological stimulation of gambling and its appeal to the elderly.

Catholic View on Gambling.

According to the catholic church: 'In itself, gambling is an indifferent matter,' The Rev. Michael Griffin of Catholic University said. 'It is neither good nor bad, it becomes good or bad according to the moral circumstances that surround the act of gambling.' While gambling may be a luxury, in the Catholic view it 'is not considered sinful except when the indulgence in it is inconsistent with duty.'

The Rev. Ernest Gibson, executive secretary of the District of Columbia Council of Churches, argued that gambling 'is a very serious question' for a nation that defines itself as 'one nation under God' in saluting its flag and that places 'In God We Trust' on its coins. “This nation, throughout its history, has used the Protestant work ethic to shape its attitude toward the development of independent, self-motivated, responsible citizens,' he said. 'This nation has been built mainly by men and women who were willing to work for their livelihood. “These values, he continued, some from 'the Bible as preached and taught by the Christian church. The scriptures clearly emphasize the moral value of work. He claims that: “In the light of these considerations, he said, 'gambling, legal or illegal, is anathema, an evil thing. It is the antithesis of work.'

From this the view of the Catholic church is that there is no mention of the word “gambling” in the Bible, although there are a few examples of casting lots (with a famous example being the Roman soldiers dividing Jesus’ garments at his crucifixion (John 19:24)). God is never quoted for saying “Thou shalt not buy lottery tickets.” Some churches even hold raffles and bingo nights to support the parish and its ministries. They also believe that games of chance and wagers are not bad. It is the emotions that come from gambling that the church feels negatively about. Greed, coveting, selfishness, indulgence, power, worship of money, all these things can control the mind and soul. Once these emotions are thrown into the mix, God’s law is violated. These emotions must have been St. Augustine’s justification for saying, “The Devil invented gambling. So what I conclude from this is that, from the Catholic perspective, as long as gamblers practice moderation when gambling, as they do not become corrupted by addiction or evil passions, and are judged fairly so that no one is exploited, abused, or wrongly manipulated in any other way, Catholics are free to enjoy the pleasures that comes from taking risks, according to my research.

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