It is not often that I decide to ascend my soapbox to deal with issues that are being debated in the halls of our secular government. My first and greatest reason for this is that politicians and legislators and judges do not ultimately possess the ability to address society’s greatest ill. The reason we have so many problems in the world and in our country is because man is sinful, and the only remedy for sin is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, rather than pledging ourselves to a particular political party or social cause, we must first and foremost pledge ourselves to the propagation of His gospel and to prayer for the salvation of our leaders and our countrymen.
While proclaiming the gospel is to be our primary platform and purpose in engaging society, there is still value in letting our distinctively Christian voices be heard on moral issues that the Bible directly addresses. We have the privilege of living in a democratic nation, and though we would all admit to the imperfections of this system, it still affords us freedoms that we should exercise for the glory of Christ. Thus, the children of God should seek to protect the lives of the unborn and to care for orphans. We should seek to protect the institution of marriage from divorce-happy heterosexuals as well as radical homosexuals. We should be good stewards of the environment, though not in an unbiblical way that assaults biblical freedom or the primacy of humanity as God’s unique image-bearers. And we should be first among those caring for and protecting the elderly, the handicapped, the poor, and the homeless.
That is why we should let our voices be heard on the issue of gambling. Gambling is an industry in America that victimizes families and poor people in the name of entertainment and tax revenue. It fosters an addiction based upon human greed where the promise of quick, abundant wealth is continually communicated and never fulfilled. In fact, as it regards the particular issue here in Alabama, addiction counselors have called video slot machines the “crack cocaine” of the gambling industry because it is so addictive.
Gambling is bad economic policy. Gambling is a form of regressive taxation, as studies have shown that the poor and uneducated tend to gamble at a higher rate and with a much greater proportion of their income than the middle class, the rich, and the well-educated. Studies have proven that when casinos open, other local businesses suffer and often close as both discretionary and necessary income is funneled into gaming and profits sent out-of-state. According to John Warren Kindt, in his statement before congress in 1994, “For every one dollar of revenue generated by gambling, taxpayers lose three dollars in increased criminal justice costs, social welfare expenses, regulatory costs, and increased infrastructure expenditures.
Gambling increases crime. The Department of Justice and the National Institute for Justice have found significant links between gambling, crime, and druge use. A 2004 study by E. L. Grinols at MIT found that counties with casinos had notably higher crime rates than non-casino counties. A University of Nebraska study by John Jejkal in 2000 concluded that problem gambling is as much a risk factor for domestic violence as alcohol abuse.
Gambling destroys homes and families and children. SMR Research Corporation has called gambling “the single fastest-growing driver of bankruptcy.” Gambling related bankruptcies in metro Detroit increased by as much as 40-fold within 18 months of the opening of Casino Windsor, just across the Detroit river. Three years after casinos were legalized in Deadwood, South Dakota, felony crimes had increased by 40%, child abuse had increased by 42%, and domestic violence assaults had risen 80%. In Indiana, a review of the state’s gaming commission records revealed that 72 children were found abandoned on casino premises during a 14 month period.
In the National Gambling Impact Study, done at the university of Chicago in 1999, they found that the lifetime divorce rate for problem gamblers was 39.5% and for pathological gamblers it was 53.5%; for non-gamblers, it was only 18.2%. Dr. Rachel Volberg, President of Gemini Research, has noted, “Suicide attempts among pathological gamblers are higher than for any other addiction and second on to suicide attempt rates among individuals with major affective disorders, schizophrenia, and a few major hereditary disorders.”
In short, when gambling is legalized in a commnity or state, an ever-growing tide of human wreckage ensues and the economic situation of the populace worsens. Thus, our response to gambling interests should be certain and strong. Because we belong to Christ, we share His concern for the poor, for families, for children, for marriages, and for human lives. Gambling fosters greed, neglect, indebtedness, crime, a poor work ethic, and ultimately, the loss of human life. Let us therefore pray for strength for those who are fighting the Casino Moguls, let us pray for many of our legislators to be released from their blindness to the facts, let us be heard in their ears as we make the biblical viewpoint known, and let us be seen at the ballot box if they take it that far. I love you all dearly!