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2/21/17 at 11:39 AM 0 Comments

Tackling Problem Gambling From a Christian Perspective

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Christians have often taken a hard-line on gambling and those with gambling addictions are seen as corrupted, immoral, and going against God. However, the bible doesn’t actually condemn gambling, nor does it really mention it. There are passages in the bible that warn against “the love of money” as there are passages warning against any “get rich quick schemes”. But these could be interpreted to mean pyramid schemes and people who work around the clock as much as gambling.

However, the issue that Christians have with gambling is less about the immorality of the act in itself, and more about the problems that it can cause. Gambling addiction is one of the most destructive, harmful things that can happen to a person. It causes a person to lie to their loved ones, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to commit treacherous acts and to generally harm those around them. The bible does warn against all of these things, but as Christians it’s important for us to help those with this problem instead of shunning them.

When Gambling Becomes Problem Gambling

First, it’s important to note that not all gamblers fall under this umbrella. I recently spoke with professional tipsters from OnlineCricketBetting.net, a site that focuses on gambling as a career, and not just a hobby. “To us,” they told me. “Gambling is fun, it’s something to pass the time and it’s something that earns us a regular income. It’s not immoral, we live normal lives and we’re happy with what we do.”

The same goes for many professional poker players, blackjack players and sports book gamblers, and indeed for anyone who enjoys an occasional bet. If it’s legal and no one comes to any harm, then there’s nothing wrong with it and we should embrace whatever makes these people happy. However, when they start gambling too much, when it gets out of control and begins to hurt others, that’s when someone needs to step in.

In the United Kingdom, gambling is legal and widespread, and problem gambling is beginning to take hold. They want to embrace sensible gambling but remind people that problem gambling is a serious issue. For this they have a campaign that warns, “When the fun stops. Stop.” This perfectly sums up problem gambling. Like a drug addict, they do it just because that’s the cycle they are in, not necessarily because they derive any pleasure from it anymore.

Problem Gambling: How to Stop It

The answer isn’t to restrict gambling even more and to bring harder punishments for those practicing. They will always find a way. In the United States, gambling addiction is rife, yet it’s tightly controlled. In Canada, it’s not that big of a problem, yet gambling is legal in Canada. In other words, it is an issue that needs to be treated like drug addiction. That is to say that rather than focusing on eradicating it at source and doing little elsewhere, we need to look more at helping individual addicts and at treating their issues at source.

Because gambling, like alcohol, is not a demon that ravages everyone it touches. It is something that can be enjoyed by the majority of the population, but something that does damage to those in a weakened state. And when that damage is done, they just need a little help and guidance to get back on track.

Problem Gambling: How we Can Help as Christians

The first step to controlling gambling addiction is acceptance. They need to understand that they have a problem and that that problem is causing distress to others. Problem gamblers are often in denial over their issues. They tell themselves that no one is being hurt. They convince themselves that they win as much as they lose, or that they “Deserve to gamble after a hard week”.

But when it’s laid out in front of them, when they see how much they are losing, how much their lies are hurting others and what damage they are doing, they can begin to change their ways.

From there they need the support of their loved ones, of their community and of God. By coming clean and by righting their wrongs they can only go so far, but with this support they can make it all of the way. God is the “God of truth”, someone who could not lie and did not lie. This is an example that we should all live by, and one that will quickly fix the issues that problem gamblers have.

If they stop lying, then they stop hiding falsehoods about the damage they are doing to others. If they stop lying then they begin to accept how much damage they are doing to their mental state, their physical state and their finances. They begin to see the truth in all things, and that’s usually enough of a wake up call.

Problem Gambling Resources

As well as your support, they also need the right information, the right help and the right guidance from experts. For that you can get in touch with your regional or national problem gambling organization. These exist all over the world, and most of them are non-profit. You can also seek help from local support agencies and rehabilitation clinics. These days they receive many problem gamblers and are therefore more than well equipped to help them.

They cost money, but if you have health insurance then it should cover it. Most forms of health insurance will cover rehabilitation. There may be some copayments, but they are often just a fraction of the total amount. And when you consider the money it can save you in the long run, not to mention the positive effects it can have on your health, then it’s worth it.

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