Morality and the Casino Industry


(WARNING: Strong views expressed in this piece that may be of a sensitive nature to some readers)

Gambling and Religion

If you've worked in the online casino world long enough there's one thing that is for sure - at one time or another you will get questioned about the morality of doing so. From some of the religious camps, you will be challenged on the grounds that you "lead people into sin, because gambling is a sin". Interestingly in Christianity there is no definitive biblical scripture on the matter that explicitly refers to gambling or classifies it as a sin.

What it does state is that you should be a good steward of your money, that you should not put your trust in luck and fortune, and that not money, but the love of money is the root of all evil. Still, no reference to gambling. While the above points can and do start many heated theological debates, and are relevant to those in Christian Society today, they should not be taken out of context and used to incorrectly argue a personal point of view on the matter.

Not everyone Christian or otherwise who gambles does so recklessly, not everyone who gambles puts their trust in luck and fortune to provide for them above God, and not everyone who gambles does so because they are consumed with greed and the love of money. Yes there are those that do...but is it fair to blame casinos and gambling for this behaviour? To damn everyone involved to hell? If you answer yes to the latter, then you're missing the foundational point of Christianity completely.

Islam's Quran on the other hand does explicitly refer to gambling as sin, along with the consumption of drugs and alcohol - so if you are a devout Muslim we would clearly understand your perspective on the subject.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof though, the fundamental truth is that you always have a choice as to whether to partake in any activity or not. And yes we call all express our beliefs, opinions and dissent but let's do so with logical reasoning and respect for our audiences and allow them the same courtesy...who knows, you may change some minds after all.

Gambling, Addiction and Morality

The argument regarding gambling and addiction is really a chicken and egg situation and a highly contentious one at that. Experience and psychology tells us that people prone to particular so called "sin" behaviours will find a way to enable these whether or not the means exists. For example if casinos ceased to exist then street corner dice games, so called "friendly bets" between friends on anything from sports to how fast it will take the lawn to grow, or even home gambling games would become means to an end for those with these particular compulsions.

Do we blame McDonald's for making us fat because we eat too many super-sized meals with massive chocolate shakes each week? Do we vilify sweet makers and confectioners for adding those unwanted pounds? Some have tried of course, but generally common sense reigns and we realise that it's all about self-control.

Yet still, certain sectors of society for whatever reason continue to lobby against gambling and specifically online gambling, and the effect are that a certain stigma is attached to these activities, leaving some working in the industry questioning their morality often based on uninformed and irrational societal norms, or often having to defend it.

What we need to realise is that gambling and casinos are a business like any other. Businesses are born out of demand. And even if they close completely and cease to exist, the demand will find an outlet in one way or another. While it may be a hard fact to swallow, it has been proven time and time again throughout history.

"But casinos encourage people to play". Yes they do. It's good business practice. Yes, it's a casino host's job to keep players happy and playing. Yes, incentives are offered to do so, just like those that you'll find at popular retailers and fast food chains. Do you think that the $50 off $300 voucher you receive is out of the goodness of the store's heart? No! It's to get your feet in the door and encourage you to keep spending.

"Yes but gambling is addictive" ...and shopping/eating/drinking isn't for some? Shall we close every mall/restaurant/bar in the world down? Will that stop it?

We are not negating the fact that addictions do exist. They do, they are terrible and they wreck lives. No one is disputing that. But they are not the ill of the majority and no matter how much we'd like to have a scapegoat for them, the gambling industry in its entirety is not to blame. Each person is responsible for his/her own behaviour and ultimate self-control.

Lack the self-control due to an addiction? This is a real problem and help is available and waiting for anyone who wishes to receive it and is offered everywhere from telephone lines to rehabs and churches.

Yet by continually blaming external loci are we not enabling the person to justify their behaviour and avoid taking full responsibility? Which in fact are the only two ways that any addict ever really finds the path to recovery.

Still, there are measures in place to help problem gamblers and addicts limit or stop gambling such as implementing online gambling limits and self-exclusion options and these can be imposed across networks of casinos. As part of licensing agreements they have to be adhered to.

Do all casinos do so? No, probably not to the best of their ability. But then the individual casino and those operating it are immoral, not all casinos.

Yet we digress, if you believe gambling is immoral, that is your personal view - and there is probably nothing anyone can say or do to change that. We respect that. Just before you challenge someone else's morality, perhaps consider exercising enough rationale to understand that there are always three sides to every story...Yours, theirs and the truth.