How Gambling Affects Society
Gambling is a popular pastime in many countries and has recently become more widely accepted and advertised than before, possibly leading to greater awareness of the habits and indulging in it. This can have an adverse effect on society, as it is widely seen as a threat to moral fibre. It can lead to debt and poverty, as well as an addiction among some consumers who can’t help but to keep gambling. Additionally, it enforces a culture of conformity and selfishness in which people indulge in a pastime that is more in line with their own selfish interests and not that of society.
Dr. Michael Weiszenburg, an American professor of mental health and addiction, explains, “Gambling is a problem for society when there is an unhealthy attitude towards it, when people are putting their lives at risk, or are disregarding the health and well-being of those around them in pursuit of a selfish gain.” Dr. Weiszenburg goes on to warn that, “Gambling is a universal gambling disease that can capture the imagination of any person, regardless of their financial upbringing or origination.”
Furthermore, gambling can also lead to further social and economic damage. Without regulation, it can also be a contributor to income disparity, where those who are not financially well off are more likely to seek out gambling opportunities, leading to greater poverty and loss of resources that could be used elsewhere. Additionally, the dividing line between gambling and crime can be dangerously thin; some illegal gambling operations have links with crime syndicates.
The Pros and Cons of Gambling
The pros and cons of gambling can be argued from multiple angles. On one hand, it can provide a form of entertainment, generate revenue, and provide employment. On the other hand, it can be seen as immoral and corrupting. It could be argued that gambling also helps boost the local economy. According to the Ohio Council of Problem Gambling, gambling has contributed to over $60 million in economic impact for Ohio in 2015. But on the other side of the debate, it can be argued that gambling is a drain on society in the long-run.
Peter Ryan, an addiction specialist from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, says that, “Gambling has clearly been a major source of income for governments for centuries, and many people who are able to keep it under control and take part in it responsibly can see its benefits.”
He goes on to say that, “At the same time, gambling is known to cause social and economic problems and can be seen as an addiction. In addition to this, it has been linked to increases in rates of domestic abuse and debt, undermining social stability and the moral values of some communities.”
Is Gambling Against The Bible?
The Bible has very little to say on the subject of gambling, however, it clearly mentions it negatively. In the book of Proverbs, it warns us against the risk of greed and irregular gambling, while in the book of Romans it calls out the risk of getting addicted to it.
One example from the Bible that speaks particularly strongly against gambling can be found in 1 Corinthians 6:12, which says, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
The main point to be taken away is that, although gambling is not technically prohibited, it can lead to a state of dependency and financial problems. The Bible is largely silent on the issue of gambling, however, while there may be no explicit prohibition on it, there are sections which are thought to be warnings against it.
Religious Perspective on Gambling
Religious organisations have also taken a stance on gambling. The Catholic Church, for example, does not explicitly prohibit gambling and does not consider it to be immoral. However, it does advise caution, saying that excessive gambling can lead to immorality and addiction. The Church does not promote gambling, but does accept its limited use for entertainment and recreation.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, is completely against any form of gambling, whether it is done for entertainment or recreation. According to the Church’s official stance on gambling, it, “can become an enemy of truth, justice, charity, and good order. It despoils life of all that is really worthwhile and ultimately destroys the welfare of those who become addicted to it.”
Experts’ Perspective on Gambling
Experts in the field of behavioural psychology have weighed in on the debate. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a behavioural psychologist at Arizona State University, explains in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” that, “The odds against success in the gambling industry are so stacked that it can lead to an unhealthy cycle of risk-taking and loss chasing for those who become addicted.”
Dr. Richard O’Neill, a researcher from Boston College, adds that, “Gambling has been found to be associated with a decrease in happiness, a rise in anxiety and depression, and an increase in financial stress. It is a known risk factor for suicide, especially among young people.”
It is clear from these experts that gambling does pose a risk to individuals and can have a detrimental effect on the communities in which it is practiced.
Legal Perspective on Gambling
Most countries have strict laws governing gambling and its practice. In the United States, gambling laws vary from state to state. For example, in some states, betting on horses and dog races is legal while in others, it is not.
In the United Kingdom, gambling laws are much stricter; all forms of gambling, including betting shops, casinos and bingo halls, are regulated by the Gambling Commission.
In other countries, such as Australia, gambling is seen as a leisure activity and is not subject to much regulation. It should be noted, however, that online gambling is not legal in Australia, and many online gambling companies have gone bankrupt in the past due to legal action taken against them for flouting regulations in the country.
Effects of Gambling on Mental Health
Gambling can have a serious impact on mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, there is a “strong correlation between mental illness and problem gambling.” It is well-documented that those who have a mental health issue, such as clinical depression, are more likely to be drawn to the thrill and excitement of gambling, potentially leading to an addiction.
In terms of treating a gambling addiction, psychological therapies and counselling can be used to help individuals understand the underlying psychological factors that can contribute to problem gambling. These therapies can also help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms to replace the urge to gamble.
Conclusion: Is Gambling Against the Bible?
The Bible has very little to say on the subject of gambling, but it does clearly mention it negatively in two places. The attitude of religious organisations towards gambling varies greatly, with some seeing it as acceptable in moderation and others seeing it as inherently corrupting.
From an expert and legal perspective, gambling is seen as something that needs to be regulated as it can have serious implications for individuals and society. It can lead to addiction, financial problems and social unrest. All these factors point to the need for caution when it comes to engaging in gambling.