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Our Position (Gambling)

Focus on the Family opposes all forms of legalized gambling for both moral and pragmatic reasons. We believe the net societal effect of our government's embrace of gambling has been disastrous.

Focus on the Family opposes all forms of legalized gambling for both moral and pragmatic reasons. We believe the net societal effect of our government's embrace of gambling has been disastrous.

Gambling is driven by and subsists on greed. For this reason, the activity is morally bankrupt from its very foundation. Gambling is also an activity which exploits the vulnerable – the young, the old and those susceptible to addictive behaviors. Further, gambling entices the financially disadvantaged classes with the unrealistic hope of escape from poverty through instant riches – thus, ultimately worsening the plight of our poorest citizens. Also, gambling undermines the work ethic. It is based on the premise of "something for nothing," a concept that sanctions idleness rather than industriousness, slothfulness instead of initiative.

Read Focus on the Family's entire position statement on Gambling.

Biblical Opposition

As a ministry, Focus on the Family primarily exists to defend and strengthen families. Gambling and gambling addiction serve to erode the very foundation of strong, healthy families.

The Bible is God's prescription for our continued existence, health, prosperity, happiness and salvation. To live by biblical principles is to live in obedience and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ and His Word.

Undoubtedly, we all desire to live rewarding and significant lives. This can be fully achieved, but only if we share God's eternal perspective in this life. God's principles are challenged daily as we walk along the exciting and difficult road of life. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus says "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves."

The term "gambling" will not likely be found in a concordance, but the principles that apply to gambling, gambling addiction and the subsequent consequences are readily found throughout the Bible.

The nature of gambling can be described as follows: Gambling is the art and science of intentional deception that feeds on the exploitation of human weakness for the sole purpose of monetary gain. Basically, gambling deceives people in order to exploit them and take their money. What a great business to have in your backyard – or not! Perhaps this is why a survey from the Center for Economic and Civic Opinion at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell found the three most unpopular types of development in our nation to be landfills, power plants and, you guessed it, casinos!1

Consider, for example, the "fruit" of gambling. Matthew 7:15-20 discusses discerning good from bad, false promises and false prophets, and it uses a fruit tree to illustrate:

  • Mathew 7:15: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."
  • Mathew 7:16: "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes} nor figs from thistles, are they?"
  • Mathew 7:17: "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit."
  • Mathew 7:18: "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit."
  • Mathew 7:19: "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
  • Mathew 7:20: "So then, you will know them by their fruits."

What "fruit" does gambling produce? Revenue and jobs will be touted by the gambling proponents, but remember the source of this "revenue": deception and exploitation of people. And think about the jobs: deceiving people to take their money, serving alcohol to "lessen" gamblers' inhibitions, scrubbing urine and feces off seats of addicted gamblers, bouncing angry gamblers, catching swindlers. The list of "pristine" jobs goes on.

The "ABCs of Gambling" illustrate a few of the "fruits" that gambling and gambling addiction produce: addiction, bankruptcy, crime, corruption, destruction of families, destruction of marriages, domestic violence, economic destabilization and suicide. Gambling sounds more like a prickly, noxious thistle than a fruit-bearing tree.

The Bible talks about "uneven scales" and practicing deception. This is the "skill" that most proficient gamblers work to develop, and it's that same trickery and dishonesty that casinos use to exploit people and take their money.

Matthew 25:14-30 is the parable of the talents, where stewardship of skills and money is discussed. A number of other parables are scattered throughout the Bible that also discuss good stewardship of resources, skills, effort and finances.


1Jennifer S. Forsyth, Michael Corkery and Christine Haughney, "Plots & Ploys: Stop Right There," Wall Street Journal, 4 January 2006.
 

 
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