Points to Ponder What’s The Fuss About Slots?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
We need the money in our community, so why not let it roll in through gambling? If people want to throw away their money, why not let it benefit the community?
A study by the National Gambling Impact Commission in March 1999 found that 5% of lottery players account for HALF the money spent on ticket sales. That 5% spends about $3,500 on average per year on lottery tickets. These are not the wealthy who have “money to burn.” These are the poor, those who desperately hope for a quick way out of their circumstances; and the state government takes advantage of their situation and their unwise decisions.
Another study by the commission found that over five million Americans are pathological or problem gamblers; and people who live within 50 miles of a casino are twice as likely to become pathological or problem gamblers. Adolescents, ages 12-17 are joining the ranks of problem gamblers. Over 1.1 million adolescents in 1999 engaged in pathological gambling. When the slots land in Laurel, where we live, whose kids are going to get snagged? We live walking distance from the racetrack.
Desperate people, deep in debt, will do desperate things. Crime, wiping out the family’s assets, and the destruction of relationships will increase. To whom will these persons and/or their damaged families turn? The church. The government will get their money and we will get them.
God’s word speaks to this issue:
“An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21 NIV)
Of course, that’s if you win. Few ever do.
The government’s role is to protect the peoples, not exploit them. In Old Testament times, God chastised and punished Israel for its disregard for the poor.
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” (Zechariah 7:9-10 NIV)
Gambling is a moneymaker because it rips off the poor. Period. Those who have money to blow on lotteries, slots, etc. simply encourage the industry to continue its exploitation.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” (I Timothy 6:10). Gambling is founded firmly in the love of money. And from its roots come all kinds of evil. Therefore, any Christian who plays the lotteries and the slots is actively watering that root. Here is what the Bible says to the Christian who thinks playing the lottery is just “harmless fun.”
Exodus 20:17, the 10th Commandment. “You shall not covet... anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Gambling is the act of coveting someone else’s money; attempting to gain hold of it without giving something in return.
I Corinthians 10:31-33 “...whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greek, or the church of God... for I’m not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” Gambling is a poor witness. We are to seek the good of others, and to be a good example of Christ likeness. (Can you picture Jesus playing the scratch off at Sheetz?)
God calls those who claim to be His own to live a life that is above reproach, personally and in public. Study these passages:
Ephesians 5:3 “Greed should not be named among God’s people.”
I Thessalonians 5:22 “Avoid appearances of evil.”
II Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith and not by sight.” (Gamblers walk to the sight of dollar signs without regard to whom they may be walking over to get their prize.)
As we debate this issue at work, school, church, or wherever, remember that wise old admonition: Be careful to keep the camel’s nose out of the tent door, or else you will soon be sharing your tent with him. They smell bad, have a nasty disposition and are very difficult to get out once they are in. Christians who engage in this practice are opening the tent flap with their hand, and it will be your children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the camel in the tent called Maryland.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at The First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.