Gambling has become a major social problem in Britain. What causes people to gamble? Read how it affects people's lives — and why it is morally wrong.
London LONDON is now the gambling centre of Europe — surpassing even Monte Carlo. More than half the adult population are gamblers! Britons now spend more on gambling than for beer or cars. There are more betting shops and bingo halls in Britain than banks. The GOVERNMENT is concerned!
When Gambling Upsurge Began
This present gambling boom began in 1960 when the Betting and Gaming Act paved the way for legal gambling. Police estimate there were some 750 illegal betting shops and a network of runners before the Act. There are now well over 15,000 licensed betting shops. And 600 new ones set up business last year. This is admitted to be only the beginning. The chairman of Crockford's gambling club in London, Mr. Timothy Holland, recently confessed: "The gambling boom is only just beginning. With every increase in leisure time, people will now turn to new amusements and will want greater opportunities to gamble." As if there weren't enough opportunities to gamble already. The licensed betting office, sometimes disguised as "Turf Accountant," has made betting "respectable." Offices are conveniently located throughout the country. A man can have a "flutter" on the Derby at Ascot, Grand National, or other horse races, dog races, and even the outcome of the General Election. The football pools are another form of gambling that attracts thousands. Some 12,000,000 people do the football pools each week, three quarters of them being men — more than half the adult males in the country! They think they can afford a few shillings a week in the vain hope that a miracle will occur and resolve their nagging economic problems. It seldom does!
A National Craze
Bingo has become a national craze in recent years. It's a gamble that attracts the entire family. Grandma and her seven-year-old granddaughter can now perch on the padded stools and punt together as equals. The drive-in bingo palace allows patrons to sit in their cars and listen to calls over the radio. Some wives will even spend their housekeeping money and go into debt in order to play. One wonders how so many can possibly put up with such a pastime which is essentially dull, repetitive, and demands little or nothing of the imagination. Gaming clubs, slot machines, Premium Bonds and speculating on the Stock Exchange are other booming kinds of gambling. Some believe that about 15 percent of dignified Stock Exchange business is pure gambling. Even the Government is involved. Premium Bonds are the Government's own form of interest lottery. Most people don't consider these bonds a gamble, thinking they don't lose anything. That's untrue. The stake in this lottery is not the purchase price of the bond, but the interest involved. The interest on the bond is not paid, but is put into a lottery. Prizes are won by the few and the interest lost by the many! Turnover on gambling in Britain last year has been calculated at more than £900,000,000 ($2,520,000,000). This averages out to well over £20 (close to $60) for every adult! It is nearly three times as much as Britons spend on books, newspapers and magazines. No wonder the Government is concerned. Gambling is affecting the economy of the country to say nothing of the heartache and misery it has caused hundreds of families. "Gambling perhaps now does more harm than drink," said Professor G.M. Trevelyan (English Social History, p. 571). Mr. George Thomas, Parliament Secretary at the Home Office has cautioned: "The time has come to strike a note of warning to the nation. Unless a halt is called now, we will be on the way to decadence, from which it will be very difficult to recover." Just what is the total effect of gambling on the home and lives of individuals?
Gambling's Effect on Home Life
Home life, industry, recreation — all are disastrously affected by gambling. When Mr. George Thomas warned the nation, he declared: "We cannot sweep those matters under the carpet. There are families whose lives are being made a hell because of gambling." The most sensitive point of social life is the home. Gambling affects the home in a variety of ways. The disturbing effect of gambling upon home life was summed up by Mrs. Edith M. Millns, speaking to the Royal Commission: "Home life is often demoralized: (a) by the desire for easy money which seldom comes; (b) by frequent quarrels, unhappiness, discontent, dishonesty — all these things helping to make broken homes; (c) by material and financial want; (d) by failure to build up solid, reliable, character" (Gambling in English Life by E. Benson Perkins, p. 69). If a husband and father is addicted to gambling, his whole mind and character is affected. He usually becomes absorbed in the betting world — even during work hours. He not only thinks about the actual laying of bets, he is also anxious about the results. Gambling thus increases his idleness, not to mention dissipation and POVERTY!
Gambling and Recreation
Gambling also has its effect on the right use of leisure and the character of sport. Football, horse and dog racing, and boxing are motivated by the gambling spirit. Football games have been rigged. Horses and greyhounds have been drugged. But isn't gambling an amusement offering relaxation for leisure time? Gambling does offer a perverted type of pleasure. Some enjoy gambling best when the losers squirm. Others squirm with sadistic pleasure when they themselves lose. At gambling clubs, people play in an eerie silence, scarcely exchanging a word. There is no laughter — and no real happiness. There is only a feeling of boredom, tinged with regret at the wasting of time and energy. There is no genuine skill in gambling. "Of all pastimes, gaming involves the least skill. Of all entertainments, it must be the most uncreative. Of all vices, it is the most sterile" (The Sunday Times, London, November 28, 1965). Football pools are nothing but a lottery. Skill is not required to win a prize. All gamblers believe they can win, but all gamblers can't because the odds are against them. If the odds were for them, no one would be running a gaming house! The ones who profit from gambling are the promoters and those who cheat. Gambling as a diversion and entertainment is merely an excuse. Many other amusements could take the place of gambling and leave the gambler both a happier and a better man.
Why Do People Gamble?
Some say the cause of gambling is boredom. Others say the increased facilities for organized gambling is the main cause. Too much leisure time, financial worries and the attraction of winning a large sum by luck are said to be other causes. These all play a part in encouraging gambling, but none of them is the real cause. The real and basic cause lies within the character and nature of man himself. The gambling impulse, in one form or another, is inherent in human nature. Human beings want something for nothing — that is greed. Gambling is associated with the element of risk. This fascinates and attracts the vanity of mankind. Risk is deliberately taken for the purpose of selfish gain motivated by GREED! As Maurice Maeterlinck said, "Gambling is the stay-at-home, imaginary, mechanical, anemic, and unlovely adventure of those who have never been able to encounter or create the real, necessary, and salutary adventure of life." This perverted type of adventure attracts people to gambling.
Is Life a Gamble?
Some think life is always a gamble. This is not true. Financial success, for example, doesn't come by accident. It is the result of obeying the financial laws God has set in motion. (Read our free booklet, Ending Your Financial Worries) Life is not a succession of chances, but of choices (Deut. 30:14, 19). Life is concerned with man's choice between two absolutes — life or death, good or evil, reward or punishment. Life is the very opposite of a gamble. Once we have done our part by obeying God's laws and using our knowledge and experience to remove all risk, our life then is in God's hands — absolutely assured. Our faith and trust is in the care of a loving God — not luck.
Gambling Akin to Divination
Gambling thus appeals to the perversion of a natural impulse. It is a habit-forming pursuit that grips a person's mind like a narcotic. A man who won a £275,000 jackpot is still doing the football pools. "I don't expect to win another fortune. But after doing them for years I can't break the habit," he explained. The gambler is a restless man. He is never satisfied whether he wins or loses. If he wins, he wants to win more. If he loses, he tries to win back his losses. Here's advice from a gambler himself. John W. Gates made a gigantic fortune through his operations with the American Steel and Wire Company and the U.S. Steel Corporation. But he was an inveterate gambler. In 1909 Gates appeared at a conference and gave this advice: "Don't bet at the races. Don't speculate in wheat. Don't speculate on the Stock Exchange. Don't throw dice. Don't shirk honest labor. Don't gamble. Once a gambler, always a gambler" (The Itch to Play by L.J. Ludovici, p. 190).
Is Gambling Morally Right?
The right or wrong of gambling can be determined by its "fruits" — the results and consequences it has brought about. Gambling depreciates and destroys a man's character. It is therefore SIN. A gambler is motivated by selfishness and GREED! He is self-centered and indulgent. His whole regard and concern is for the self. He wants to win. When — more often if — he wins, he does so by taking money from others. Just because all parties have agreed that chance should determine who wins or loses doesn't make it right. Gambling is one of the influences which produce a self-centered and antisocial attitude. A gambler soon is not able to recognize any true sense of value. Gambling destroys all sense of responsibility to the community or regard for the true values of life itself! One sin leads to another. Occasional betting leads to regular betting. It becomes easier and habitual to lie, cheat, and steal. Gambling leads to crime in many cases. Many gamblers are desperate for money. Gambling takes them into greater debt. The pressure builds up until they resort to crime to get what they need. During 1964, 47 cases involving gambling debts and theft or fraud were reported by the press. In 33 of these cases, it was clear that gambling and indebtedness preceded the crime. Gambling is responsible for a large proportion of criminal cases where fraud or embezzlement is involved.
What the Bible Says
What does God say about gambling? Although there is no particular statement mentioning gambling in the Bible, there is enough evidence to show that gambling is wrong and leads to the transgression of God's basic law — the Ten Commandments. The first commandment says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). To many men and women, gambling becomes their god. They spend most of their time and energy studying horses, dogs, football teams until gambling dominates their whole life. They worship the goddess of fortune or luck. When a man is tempted by large stakes and rich prize money, he breaks the tenth commandment which says, "Thou shalt not covet." This greedy desire for gain may lead to the breaking of the eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." His gambling habits may force him into an awkward position. He resorts to lying to get himself out of it and so breaks the ninth commandment.
Gambling Defeats Love toward Neighbor
Christ taught: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 19:19). Love is an outgoing concern for our fellowman. Love is the spirit of GIVING, of helping others. Gambling is the very opposite of this. To gamble involves the principle of getting instead of giving — taking without contributing to the general wellbeing of others. One is actually coveting that which belongs to another. A man with the true spirit of love wants to see each man receive his rightful due. In gambling, a person anticipates winning by luck more than is due for his effort. He, instead, imposes a definite loss upon the other man. The "happiness" of the winner causes the misery of the loser. It is right to make a profit — when it is made justly through the giving of service and diligent thought and work. But the spirit of love is contrary to profiteering and greed. Gambling destroys love toward neighbor. The Bible shows that God has placed us as stewards — not owners — in charge of the wealth we have. (See Matt. 25:13-30; Luke 16 and 19:11-27) We are responsible to God Himself for the use of that money. It must not be wasted. In gambling, money is used selfishly — without any real sense of responsibility. The family and creditors are soon forgotten. Money can be a very useful tool; but in gambling, it becomes the master, the dictator. Gambling is a waste. It is possible to rightfully acquire money and property (1) by gift, (2) by labor or (3) by fair exchange. Gambling violates all three rules. No real value is produced and no service given. Gambling adds nothing positive to the work, wealth, or happiness of the individual or the community. Those who win large amounts of money often don't have the character to spend it wisely. They have little or no experience to guide them in its use. The result is disastrous. Take the case of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Nicholson who won the pools in 1961 to the tune of £152,319. At the time they received their winnings, Mrs. Nicholson said, "I'm going to spend, spend, spend!" And so she did. They bought everything money could buy — clothes, a house with new furniture, luxurious cars — the lot. But it couldn't buy happiness. Their new wealth brought jealousy and suspicion into their marriage. In the end it brought tragedy. Mr. Nicholson was killed in one of their fast luxury cars.
Happiness Comes Through Work
Wealth is not the key to happiness. Elbert Hubbard, the philosopher, once said, "Get happiness out of your work." Real happiness results from accomplishing the worthwhile. The Bible commands a person to earn his living (II Thess. 3:10). God says: "Let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Eph. 4:28). Also, see I Thessalonians 4:11, 12. Trying to win huge sums of money without working for it is a sin. It leads to poverty now, and finally to eternal death! Gambling means luck, waste and GREED. None of these has any place in life as revealed in God's Word, the Bible.