MILLIONS are seeking excitement and thrills through the allure of gambling. From bingo to blackjack, roulette to horse racing, gambling is fast becoming a worldwide scourge. And beneath the glitter and glamour is the sinister shadow of the underworld! This article explains how to kick the gambling habit.
GAMBLING is big business, today, around the world! In many Western countries, gambling has become a national "way of life"! Said Wayne Pearson of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, "Statistically, gambling is the normal thing. It's the non-gambler who is abnormal in American society."
Why Gambling Fever?
Fifty million Americans are "addicted" to gambling or gamble on a regular basis. So state leading authorities. State-run lotteries exist today in 84 countries. Even the staid British have fast become a nation of gamblers! But lurking behind the back doors of the gambling casinos is the threatening hand of the syndicate organized crime. The infamous Cosa Nostra (meaning "Our Thing") controls much of the gambling in the United States. Their casinos and betting shops cash in on the all-too-human urge to have a fling, to make a bet, to get something for nothing, to take a chance. The organization will make more this year from illegal gambling than all the profits of General Motors Standard Oil, Ford, General Electric, and United States Steel combined! In 1960, Attorney General William G. Rogers estimated the total income of the rackets in America at $20,000,000,000 a year, half represented by gambling. J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, however, put the figure at about $22,000,000,000, also estimating that half came from gambling. Compare this figure with the total production of the
TRYING HIS "LUCK" Senior citizen feeds coins to a one-armed bandit. One authority estimates that fourteen million play slot machines.
American auto industry. In recent years, the wholesale price tag of all automobiles has been about $9,000,000,000. Or, to put it plainly the underworld's gross annual income from gambling profit SURPASSES the entire income of American automobile manufacturing! Shocking? Unbelievable? Yes, it is. It is incredible but it is TRUE! Think about it! According to a U. S. Commission on Law Enforcement, "Law enforcement officials agree almost unanimously-that gambling is the greatest source of revenue for organized crime." Said the Commission, "There is no accurate way of ascertaining organized crime's gross revenue from gambling in the United States. Estimates of the annual intake have varied from $7,000,000,000 to $50,000,000,000, and most enforcement officials believe that illegal wagering on horse races, lotteries, and sporting events totals at least $20,000,000,000 each year." Gaming operations pour many millions annually into the coffers of organized crime. Profits to racketeers may be as high as one third the gross intake at least $6,000,000,000 to $7,000,000,000 every single year! Every week, four million Americans make illegal bets with bookmakers. On an average fall weekend, when football games are played across the United States, between $50 and $60 million are bet illegally! The gambling fever never lets up. During the baseball season in the summer between $40 and $50 million are bet. But is it all just "innocent fun," as many claim? Let's look at the WHOLE picture! There is more behind the gambling mania gripping much of the world than you might think at first glance.
Something for Nothing?
Human nature is naturally greedy. It craves fun, fast living, and the risks involved in a gambler's odds. The bright lights of Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, glitter and twinkle in the desert night, beckoning the tourist with money burning holes in his pockets. Reno, local people humorously say, is so close to hell you can see Sparks! (Sparks is a neighboring town.) Once enveloped in the gambling atmosphere of these gambling capitals of America, the tourist is encouraged by the racy surroundings to spend his money wildly, to "have a good time." The odds, of course, are in favor of the house. Though gamblers have what they call "hot and cold streaks" of luck, the longer they play the more compulsive the urge to gamble becomes! Habitual gamblers forget everything else. Food is forgotten. So is sex. Everything recedes into the vague, nebulous background as the gambler's concentration approaches a mystical trance as he watches the dice roll, or the roulette wheel spin, or the cards turn up. The south shore of Lake Tahoe, on the California-Nevada border has become an American gambling Mecca. Large, plush casino-hotels and motels soar into the sky, surrounded by the natural beauty of the lake and mountains. Harvey's casino, the Sahara-Tahoe, and other super-plush resort hotels operate day and night 24 hours a day. Gamblers from California and elsewhere pour into the area every weekend. "High rollers" lose thousands in a single night's spree. In order to make a profit, these huge resort-hotels must attract multiple thousands of gamblers every day of the year. The action never stops, flags or relents. On a particularly busy night, young people and elderly, wizened men and old women stand four and five deep, queued up behind the slot machines, waiting their turn at the "one-armed bandits." Adding to the worldly allure and glamour of the scene, top-flight night-dub and Hollywood entertainers put on lavish shows, spiced with sex and ribaldry. The greatest names in show business glitter on the marquees, enticing people to come, see the show, and gamble. The atmosphere is racy, sensuous, hedonistic, permissive. Prostitution flourishes. As long as customers have money to spend lavishly, they are kept contented, satiated with a whirlwind of sensuous activity. In the past decade new gambling resorts have sprung up in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Million-dollar establishments do their best to attract rich playboys and high spenders who don't mind losing. Adding to the gambling craze are the national sweepstakes, the contests rigged by merchants to sell more merchandise, give-aways, the service stations' round of games, lucky bills and other gimmicks to attract repeat customers. EVERYBODY is getting in on the act! Everybody is itching for a piece of the action! Or so it would seem.
Around the World
The gambling spas sprawl all around the Mediterranean Sea. Some are well known, such as Monte Carlo in Monaco, which is supported largely through revenue from the tourist traffic and gambling. Less known, however, is the fact that even Australia has its state-operated lotteries in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Other lotteries are operated under government license in Victoria and sell tickets in Tasmania and New Zealand. The newest gambling center of Europe is swinging London, where the sights and sounds of youth have caught on like a contagion. The annual English income from gambling is £10,326,000 or more than $30,000,000 a year (prior to devaluation). By a conservative estimate, in 1965, Britons spent a record total of $2,500,000,000 on betting of all sorts; $1,700,000,000 of that total was wagered on horse racing. The British gambling boom traces back to a 1960 Act of Parliament which legalized gambling at 15,000 betting shops, in plush casinos and bingo parlors. It is estimated that London has a hundred casinos. One thousand are located elsewhere in Britain. Gambling is Britain's biggest new "growth industry"! Gangster elements have felt encouraged. Protection rackets have sprung up around the casinos. The British government finds itself plagued with the gambling menace, not knowing where it will lead! The London Weekend Telegraph (September 30, 1966) revealed that, prior to devaluation, for every person in Britain, £18 a year was spent on gambling. This was over $50 per person a year.
GAMBLING IN U.S. Chart shows gambling take in contrast with auto industry earnings. GAMBLING IN BRITAIN Right, legalized betting shop in London, England. Bottom, a private gambling club one of London's top half dozen such casinos. Britishers spend no less than £18 or $43 annually per person on gambling.
The French spent £5 ($14.00) a year. The gambling turnover in Britain is one quarter the Government budgetary expenditure a turnover of £2,000,000,000 or $5,600,000,000. In Britain the gambling-mad have turned the business of electing the Government into a wild betting spree, betting as much cash on the elections as on the Derby. What happens when gambling flourishes unchecked? Take London, the "Gambling Capital of the World," as an example. London's dusk-to-dawn world of roulette, baccarat and chemin-de-fer has turned into a GREEN FELT JUNGLE, wide open for racketeering and criminal influence. Many have complained that London is the world's most crooked gaming center as well as the world's biggest! Dishonest croupiers, banned from Continental spas and transatlantic casinos, have turned up in London, setting up their own small casinos where thievery, cheating and malpractice thrive. Britain's Home Secretary Roy Jenkins called Britain a "gambler's paradise" and noted "the close and growing connection between gaming clubs and organized crime often violent crime in London and other big cities" (Christian Science Monitor, December 30, 1966). The British gambling industry has rocketed since the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960. In 1968 almost $3,000,- 000,000 was wagered on all games of chance. Because of gambling, England has attracted many underworld elements that feed on fast and easy money, including the Mafia or Cosa Nostra. Remember, the Cosa Nostra, together with the former Cleveland Syndicate, CONTROLS gambling in the United States. One member of the British Parliament declared that Scotland Yard can handle small-time British hoodlums, "But once the Americans move in, then it becomes a different league. The Cosa Nostra knows how to divert gambling profits into narcotics and prostitution, how to infiltrate legitimate businesses..." This British M.P. continued: "We simply cannot afford to let American gambling interests get a toehold here. They bribe, corrupt, steal, lie, murder.
NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD - It is estimated that 20 million tourists enter Nevada to gamble. They bet $2,400,000,000 per year. But few find easy gold in the glittering gambling casinos.
All one has to do is to read the report of President Johnson's Crime Commission. It points out that nine men of Italian extraction supervise 24 Mafia clans in the United States, and that these men have become so powerful from gambling profits that they can now manipulate the stock market and rig the price of bread. Like gangrene they spread into everything, ruining whatever they touch."
Is gambling just the pastime of international playboys, or wealthy businessmen? Not at all. Young and old, rich and poor, wives and factory workers all get into the act. Gambling, according to a report made by two observers of the British scene, has led to bad debts, child neglect, a higher divorce rate. Adultery sometimes becomes an "after-Bingo pastime." English betting shops have been blamed for loss of productivity on the job by workingmen, as well as for breakdown of marriages. Doping of dogs and horses has also increased. This is in addition to the ORGANIZED VIOLENCE of the protection rackets and the big league hoodlums. Scotland Yard has blamed gambling for the great increase in violence and gang warfare in Britain. Mysterious fires, Molotov cocktails used in assaulting bookmakers, bombings and booby-traps these are part of the ugly, sordid picture which develops when the kingpins of organized crime move in and dominate the gambling centers. Gambling in the United States is, of course, much bigger business than it is in England. Gambling has become a vast, transcontinental empire. some four million Americans make illegal bets with bookmakers every week in the year. Betting on sports events is the biggest craze. But is it all innocent and pleasant? Former Assistant U. S. Attorney General Malcolm R. Wilkey declared: "Gambling... overlords... insinuate themselves into all local rackets... tainting all they touch with violence and corruption." Virgil Peterson, director of the Chicago Crime Commission in 1960 stated bluntly: "Gambling is run by the underworld." Almost everyone agrees that organized crime is EVIL. But gambling? That, to many people, is vastly different a horse of a different color. Gambling appeals to human nature to make a "fast buck." The glittering excitement of gambling, and winning, appeals to the selfish greed and lust in human nature which wants to get something for nothing. It appeals to human vanity, which wants to think it has "beaten the odds."
The money bet illegally in the United States every year is estimated as high as $50,000,000,000! Gambling supports 50,000 master bookies and 400,000 others. Gambling finances every conceivable kind of racket and is the very heartbeat of organized crime both locally and on a national scale. If you scratch the professional operator of gambling enterprises, you find the narcotics peddler, the loan shark, the white slave trader, the murderer. "Scratch a gambler," says a Brooklyn district attorney, "and you find a murderer." Investigators believe half the gross profit of $9,000,000,000 annually is invested by gangsters for bribes, protection, payoffs, and purchasing political influence. The other half is spent in expanding crime and gambling industries, buying into legitimate businesses, labor racketeering, prostitution and bootlegging. "There's a sucker born every minute." And gamblers take advantage of this fact. California tourists flock to Reno and Las Vegas, where they "blow" more money than they pay to build highways, conserve forests, and educate their children. Nevada officials estimate almost 20 million tourists enter their state every year to gamble. Most adults play some of the 19,000 slot machines and 1400 gaming tables. There, they bet $2,400,000,000 and lose at least ten percent, or $240,000,000. At least $12,000,000 of this goes to the Nevada state treasury. An added $600,000,000 is spent on entertainment, food, lodging, and other non-gambling but associated items. Gambling, obviously, is Nevada's largest single industry. Gambling furnishes nearly 30 percent of the state's tax revenue, and is its second biggest money source. Is gambling commonplace? According to Dr. Ernest E. Blanche, former Army chief statistician, FIFTY MILLION adult Americans gamble regularly. He asserted 26 million play bingo, buy lottery or raffle tickets, or take part in baseball or football pools. Fourteen million play slot machines, and eight million play the "numbers" game. According to the Post Daily Magazine (New York Post, January 4, 1965), 90 million Americans gamble some occasionally, some regularly. They bet on horses, numbers, cards, dice, bingo, roulette, wheels of fortune, sporting events, elections, dominoes, punchboards, slot machines, chain letters, etc. Eighty percent of them are losers. They lose $50,000,000,000 a year but only $800,000,000 of this is known to the Internal Revenue, so obviously the great preponderance of it is illegal.
The Compulsive Gambler
Gambling, of course, has its other victims. Like the alcoholic and dope addict, the compulsive gambler is a sick man. There are perhaps six million gamblers who "can't quit." Evidence accumulates that gambling is becoming one of today's most worrisome sociological problems. A group of University of Chicago psychologists reported that every year thousands of men and women become HOOKED ON GAMBLING and the betting habit. They gamble compulsively. In 1945, there were perhaps three million-plus compulsive gamblers, but today there are six million 100 times as many as the number of registered drug addicts. One out of every three gamblers could become a compulsive gambler, this report states could become a helpless victim of a pack of cards, a roulette wheel or the race track. The compulsive gambler has convinced himself that he will win. He's sure the odds are secretly in his favor. Just one more bet, and he'll strike it rich. The more he loses, the more firmly he's sure he will win next time! But subconsciously, he may want to lose! He may hock all his belongings in order to gamble. He may lose his shirt, neglect his family and children. If he wins all he can think to do with the money is gamble until he loses it again. The habitual gambler is a tragedy. He may lead a double life, lying to keep his secret. He habitually takes chances on everything that comes his way. He never quits when he's ahead, but keeps on gambling. He never learns from his losses. The compulsive gambler is afraid to face reality. Gambling is a means of escape from life and its tedium. Lady luck, goddess fortune, and the web of Fate these fantasies entice him to think one turn of the cards, one spin of the wheel, one roll of the dice, and everything will be wonderful! To him, gambling makes the future glow with promise. One compulsive gambler in my acquaintance confessed to me he was bitten by the gambling bug. "I took $5000 of my own money and borrowed $6000 from my mother," he related. "Then I went to Reno, started gambling in the evening and gambled all night. I could think of nothing else. Sex, food, time nothing interested me but the turn of the cards. By the early morning hours I was flat broke. I lost everything." This man, however, did not learn his lesson. He still takes fliers to Reno when he has the money and compulsively loses it. He keeps going back. To him gambling doesn't seem a sin a mortal danger to human welfare. To him gambling is a sport a pleasure a chance to punch Fate in the nose! He feels guilty about it, when he loses; but not guilty enough to quit. He is hooked enslaved by the habit. To help compulsive gamblers, an organization called Gamblers Anonymous was created about ten years ago, modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. In chapters in 80 cities across the country, regular groups of compulsive gamblers meet and try to help each other and encourage each other through group therapy. Gamblers Anonymous charges no fees. One third of the applicants have been through the mill emotionally, divorced, and most of the others face it, many with neglected and hostile children, and many others face prosecution. Their lives have been wrecked by the compulsive urge to gamble. The withdrawal pains from gambling can be just as bad as an alcoholic abruptly abstaining from alcohol. Fighting off the temptation to make one more bet can be as hard as conquering the urge to have just one more drink.
Gambling Can Be Overcome
How can a compulsive gambler overcome his compulsion? The founder of Gamblers Anonymous declared: "A compulsive gambler must work out his reformation the hard way strictly through his own efforts." He added, "If things are made easy for him, he'll go right back to the horse tracks and the gambling tables" (Saturday Evening Post, May 26, 1962). This, however, is not the complete story for many gamblers. True, hard effort and intense desire to overcome the problem are necessary. The person afflicted must realize and admit his problem, or he is doomed to suffer the consequences. Once he sees himself, however, he CAN take initial steps to overcome it. But sometimes the grip of the "addiction" may be too strong to master on one's own strength and resources. If a man is willing to humble himself, and cry out to the living GOD of heaven and earth for help, God can and will give it. Gambling obsessions and compulsions CAN BE OVERCOME! But the gambler must come to HATE the sin of gambling, REPENT of it, and then put it totally away from him. Coming to know the true God is a vital KEY to overcoming any pernicious urge, or human lust, or perverse desire!
The CURSE of Gambling
Plainly, we need go no further to realize that gambling is a terrible CURSE! It is closely attended by gangsterism and is connected with vice, prostitution, theft, narcotics, and murder. The gangster element has taken over or is closely involved in most gambling establishments! But gambling even by itself is a personal plague. Take a good, honest, long look at gambling. Is it right for human beings to prey on the lusts and greedy appetites of others? Is it right to throw money down a rat-hole, for no constructive purpose, merely to be "entertained" in doing so? Is it right to try to get "something for nothing"? HUMAN NATURE IS GREEDY! It is avaricious, lustful and selfish. Gamblers are the slaves of their human nature. They seek something for nothing. They want to get rich quick, without working for it. They are totally self-centered and selfish nobody else matters. Gambling does not show genuine love outgoing concern for other people. The prime motive of the gambler is to GET! He's not interested in serving, helping, assisting others, or giving of his time and energy. He just wants to GET while his luck holds out, while he's "hot." And the large gambling casinos are there to take your money, but try to make it appear as painless as possible while doing so. Betting and gambling are diametrically opposite to the way of love. They are selfish and incoming rather than outgoing. They are based on the principle of GETTING - which is Satan's way rather than on the principle of GIVING, which is God's way. God put us on this earth to learn lessons, to be constructive and creative, and to build character. He wants each of us to learn to show love and concern for our neighbor not to "take him to the cleaners" through gambling. God wants us to learn to work for our living; to do an honest day's work for our wages. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," God told Adam (Gen. 3:19). Every honest job or occupation involves a certain amount of constructive labor and mental effort. Constructive, productive work is character building. But gambling, on the other hand, is one of the ways of the world which God condemns. The apostle John was inspired of God to write, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the LUST of the flesh, and the LUST of the eyes, and the PRIDE of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the LUST thereof: but he that doeth the will of. God abideth forever" (I John 2:15-17). God knew, long ago, where the gambling fever would lead. He foresaw that gambling would open the doors to a multitude of other evils and vices. God knew that gambling would lead to broken homes, compulsive gambling, neglected children, and a terrible waste of human endeavor and potential. He knew it would lead to a false sense of values; a glittering, tinsel-wrapped package of no durable value; to aimlessness, lack of character, destitution; with the side effects of sexual lewdness, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, stealing, hoodlumism, gangsterism, murder! That's why any sensible and wise person will stay away from gambling avoid the gaming deuce and traps which have proliferated in this mad modern world! Don't be a "sucker" don't gamble!