By James Edwin Gibson
Gambling is big business in the United States, though accurate figures are not available on how many billions of dollars each year are spent on it. Furthermore, it is likely to get bigger due to the Supreme Court ruling last year (2018) that struck down a law that had basically made sports gambling illegal outside of Nevada. Articles on Forbes.com1, WashingtonPost.com2, and BusinessInsider.com3 are three of many that discuss the Supreme Court’s decision.
Since that Supreme Court decision, several states have legalized sports betting and many others are considering it. A recent ESPN.com4 article discusses the status of sports betting in each state.
Gambling in General
Some view gambling as fun entertainment or an easy way to make money. I strongly disagree.
Even small friendly bets with friends can lead to disputes. For example, one person may be unwilling (or unable) to pay when they lose a bet. An argument may also occur over the exact terms of the bet. A friendship can be weakened or destroyed as the dispute over money escalates.
Gambling too often leads to disagreements and lost money as I see it.
The only way one person can win gambling is for someone else to lose. That does not seem good to me. No useful product or service is produced by gambling that makes it worthwhile in my opinion. Perhaps much worse, the minority of people who become compulsive gamblers cause significant problems for themselves—and in some cases problems for their families and friends, as well as others.
It’s true that some people likely gamble just for entertainment. Also, even persons buying losing lottery tickets may be happy in some way during the time between when they buy the ticket and the time they learn the results of the drawing—joyfully visualizing their potential winnings and how they can use them. Still, over the long term I feel these people would be happier not gambling in most cases.
Legal and illegal betting on sports adds up to billions of dollars in the United States. I wonder how many persons caught up in the emotion of the moment wager large sums of money on particular sporting events—money they need for food, rent, etc.
Also, there is the risk that an individual or a group of people might seek to alter the outcome of games to increase chances of winning. For example, someone could bribe players or coaches to not try to do their best. History records some cases of players taking such bribes to alter the outcome of games. Other types of scandals have occurred, too. A USAToday.com piece5 discusses what it calls the “11 biggest scandals in sports gambling history.” Numerous other articles also discuss sports gambling scandals.
Organized gambling seems to do much more harm than good. It seems especially sad that so many state governments are in the business of running lotteries, encouraging people to buy tickets.
Many years ago, the state government in my home state of Kentucky initiated a state lottery to supposedly improve the state's finances. I feel that the state is in worse economic shape now than before the lottery—and likely has more compulsive gamblers, too. I think the lottery is partially responsible for this. In addition, I am ashamed of some of the advertisements run on television and radio to promote the state lottery.
I urge those who gamble with their money to please consider choosing alternative forms of entertainment and to find more ethical ways to seek to make money than by gambling.
It would be great if persons voluntarily greatly reduced the amount of money spent on gambling. As an alternative, Congress could pass laws making gambling illegal, and law enforcement officials could do a better job of enforcing laws against illegal gambling. But, this is easier written about than achieved.
1 Edelman, Mark; “Explaining the Supreme Court’s Recent Sports Betting Decision”; Forbes.com; May 16, 2018; website accessed April 27, 2019; https://www.forbes.com/sites/marcedelman/2018/05/16/explaining-the-supreme-courts-recent-sports-betting-decision/#b16f8d5537cb
2 Maese, Rick; “What the Supreme Court’s sports gambling decision means”; WashingtonPost.com; May 14, 2018; website accessed April 2019; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/05/14/what-the-supreme-courts-sports-gambling-decision-means/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6ab70f378926
3 Lauletta, Tyler; “The Supreme Court has overturned the federal ban on sports betting—here’s what that means for the immediate future of gambling in America”; BusinessInsider.com; May 14, 2018; website accessed April 27, 2019;https://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-sports-betting-decision-what-it-means-2018-5
4 Rodenberg, Ryan; “State-by-state sports betting bill tracker”; ESPN.com; April 24, 2019; website accessed April 27, 2019; http://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/19740480/gambling-sports-betting-bill-tracker-all-50-states
5 Chase, Chris; “11 biggest scandals in sports gambling history”; USAToday.com; May 16, 2018; website accessed April 27, 2019; https://ftw.usatoday.com/2018/05/11-biggest-scandals-in-sports-gambling-history
This piece being submitted to Craft News Report on April 27, 2019 is adapted and updated from a chapter in the author’s book True Christianity: It May Not Be What You Think. The author has also written on the subject for other websites over the years.
Copyright © 2019 James Edwin Gibson. James is the author of the books True Christianity: It May Not Be What You Think (2014, second edition 2015, third edition 2017) and Several True (I Think) Stories: Can Truth Be Stranger Than Fiction? (2016, second edition 2017). You may contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding this column. James thanks his friend Paul for publishing it on his website, thanks you all for reading, and hopes you all enjoy God’s blessings!