Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, (D – Nevada), wants to expand the reach of gambling by legalizing online Poker in the U.S., using another piece of lame-duck legislation slipped in before a Republican-controlled House might successfully oppose it. Three GOP members in the House (Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Dave Camp of Michigan and Lamar Smith of Texas) oppose the Democrat’s bill, as well as Senator Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.

Gambling has been in the news all over America, yet the people still love gaming.  Iowa just re-elected Republican Terry Branstad, a governor who during his first term in office greatly increased gambling. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn opposes expansion of the number of casinos in his state, including the first casino in Chicago, but the word “veto” has not been used.  In September, Denver Broncos wide receiver, Kenny McKinley, apparently killed himself at least partly because of gambling debts.

Some deeds are vices in their excess; others, in their very existence.  Gambling is clearly in the latter category.  The premise from a Christian perspective is simple.   God controls the lot (Proverbs 16:33 says “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD”), but he also uses means to do so, in this case, the laws of probability.  If a six-sided die is cast, there is a one-in-six probability that any given number will show up on top.   To risk money by betting on a particular number is foolish because it tries to defy the laws of nature God has ordained.   It is to tempt God.  When the devil tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple (Mt 4:5-7), Satan was asking Him to risk harming  or killing Himself by ignoring a law of nature called gravity, expecting the angels to save Him. How many gamblers ask God to bless their vain efforts to gain a profit using futile means?   Some gamblers like to equate games of chance with farming, where the harvest is uncertain.  Indeed, the diligent farmer may still have a bad year.   But only an insane man would plant Cheerios hoping for donuts as a reward.

Gaming has gained a stronghold in our culture in the last few decades, with gigantic growth in the number of casinos and state or regional lotteries.  Whether all forms of gamblings hould be illegal is not the issue.   Neither is the potential for mob influence. In spite of the clamor for more gambling to increase state revenues, government run or regulated gambling is a bad idea.  It encourages the citizens to behave foolishly.    Government at both the state and federal level needs to get out (and stay out) of the gambling business.

9 comments
  1. Poker is a predominantly skill game with elements of chance. It’s more similar to chess than it is to craps or roulette. Thus your analogies don’t really apply to this topic.

    Also, the proposed sites will not be government run, they will be run by private and public businesses. Online poker is a billion dollar a year industry taking place all over the world as we speak. About 10 million Americans are avid online poker players, playing online at poker sites run overseas. Why not let our companies be involved too? This will provide jobs, help boost tourism, and will bring in a bit of tax revenue for the state and federal government.

    And lastly, why don’t we let people make their owns choices on how they spend their own money? Poker is an American game that is not going anywhere any time soon.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Johngsoon.

      I don’t explicity object to legalizing gambling. Gambling is a moral problem. I will grant the arguments about poker having greater elements of skill, if you include playing the percentages and bluffing. There is a reason poker is often included in gambling casinos, however. You’ve overplayed your hand (pardon the pun). Chess is really not a game of chance at all.

      But the permission for online gaming will not stop with poker. There is no question that other forms will follow right behind, such as roulette or slot machines. My comments are more social commentary on this issue than political.

      But the notion that the government will be gaining tax revenues that bothers me. I want the government to have less money to spend, not more.

  2. Why not spend your energy fighting tobacco which kills hundreds of thousands per year instead of worrying about people like to spend their entertainment dollars. If someone spends thousands of dollars to attend a sporting event that is great, but $10 on a poker tourney everyone thinks the world is coming to an end.

  3. It’s sickening the manner in which reed is trying to sneak this bill in as a rider and with a lame duck congress. We all know the politicians all do the bidding of the special interests but this just looks read bad.

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