Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rolling the dice with people's lives

Stephen Hume hits it spot-on when he writes about the BC government's expansion -- explosion, really -- of online gambling. Like dealing drugs to addicts, he says. Indeed, it confirmed my own feelings about those poker websites advertised on TV that promise it's not a gambling site and it doesn't cost anything to play: it comes across like the pusher who tells a newbie, "the first one was free".

Of course, fuelling the gambling addiction has grown from the government's own addiction to revenue, and while Stephen doesn't come right out and say it, I will -- as I have before: gambling is sinful. It's a smorgasbord of things God warns us not to get into, like sloth (trying to get something for nothing), envy and greed. Gambling means we put more faith in the turn of a card, the roll of the dice or a random generation of numbers (assuming you're dealing with a square house that doesn't fiddle that number generation) than in the Creator of the Universe, Who has promised to provide for us.

And look at the fruits: why are the organizations that supposedly benefit from gambling revenue still crying poverty? Why do sports teams, arts organizations and health-care endeavours suddenly face being wiped out when their lottery-money grants are cut? Where is the blessing? Could it be that, when you throw in your lot with the world's way of doing things, God holds back? (Remember Jesus' words: "your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask Him." The unstated condition is that we have to ask. And if we're too busy chasing lottery revenue to ask Him to supply what we need, we won't get it.)

At least the government adverts for gambling have stopped using the lie that gaming revenue helps these organizations. (They've substituted it with something worse, I'm afraid: that insipid tag-line, "know your limit - play within it", which is like telling an alcoholic that "just a little taste won't hurt".) The percentage of revenue that's actually doled out is minuscule: as I've said before, if you really want to help such groups, take the money you'd spend on lottery tickets or at the casino and hike it straight over to them. Cut out the middleman. And watch the blessings come back on you, full measure, shaken together, pressed down and running over.

I'm surprised they haven't adopted that as a tag-line. If they ever did, I'd avoid government offices, the BCLC headquarters and the ad agency, because the forecast there would be for lightning with a strong probability of fire and brimstone.

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