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"The Flip Side of Casino Gambling" - By Don Hill

An ancient Hebrew prophet wrote " people perish for lack of knowledge." Centuries later Christ said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." The truth about Las Vegas provides us with the knowledge of what casino gambling does to a city.

The casinos are bringing in millions of dollars for charities and government. They deal excitement big time and the entertainment is hard to beat for those who crave the adrenaline rush. Because the Government of Ontario approves the casino enterprise, it is thought to be harmless except to a few weak minded folks.

Years ago the Ontario Government licensed the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in this province. Those were less enlightened times, before the research was done, and the studies were published. Now we know cigarettes cause cancer, and 35 people in Ontario die every day from smoking. Already the evidence is accumulating against casinos and the flip side of the industry is beginning to show.

The casinos generate money for charities, but where does this money come from? Studies show that the majority of casino patrons are people from the middle to lower income classes; the people who can least afford to part with their money. Indeed some of them need charity themselves. We are hearing of men and women who have gambled away mortgage payments and grocery money.

The casinos are a source of revenue for the Ontario Government. But where is the money going? Since the first casino opened, the government has made cutback after cutback. The plight of Toronto's homeless has not improved. Our health-care and educational systems continue to deteriorate. There is a reason. Research shows that legalized gambling costs the government ten times the profits to undo the damage.

As sad as it is ironic, casinos in Vegas are installing defibrillators (electroshock machines that can revive stopped hearts) after 736 of their customers went into cardiac arrest in a six month period. Of these 577 died.

A study done by the Addiction Research Foundation says that 10% of adults - nearly one million Ontarians - have problems with gambing, and up to one per cent - 100,000 are probably pathological gamblers, seriously addicted, and unable to help themselves.

According to McGill University, studies involving over 800 high school students aged 12 to 17 in greater Montreal, showed that 275 of the young people reported gambling at least once a week, and five percent qualified as pathological gamblers. The studies also revealed a link between problem gambling, smoking, alcohol, drug use and in some cases, suicide.

All those surveyed were under age. However, 7.5 percent reported gambling in casinos. It is known from earlier studies that the younger the individual begins to gamble, the greater the risk of anti-social behaviour.

Some believe that once casino gambling becomes the number one attraction in any city, the brakes are off and we should prepare for the worst. They cite the situation in Las Vegas with a population of 603,093 and 86 homicides in 2009. Compare this with Toronto which has a population of 2.5 million and had 62 homocides the same year. Most years, thousands of tourists in Vegas are robbed or mugged giving the city one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes.

Police tell us that Vegas has over 2,000 prostitutes working at any hour of the day or night, not to mention those who happen to be off duty. If we consider the broader scene of sleazy theatres, porn shops and strip shows, at least 50,000 people are employed in the sex trade.

A tree can be identified by the fruit it bears. The nature of casino gambling can be discerned by the people it draws and the practices it encourages. We cannot imagine a Christian wanting to be in the atmosphere of a casino. Born again people should avoid all forms of gambling. It is a sin of covetousness and does not belong to a child of God. The Bible says "But fornication, and uncleaness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints; ... ... For this know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. ... ... Be not ye therefore partakers with them." (Eph 5:3,5,7)

We cannot always control what others do. But as Christians, we are called upon to be "... the salt of the earth..." ...the light of the world..." (Matt 5:14-15) holding back corruption and dispelling the darkness. This means standing up and speaking out for what is right. And it may mean letting political candidates feel the impact of our convictions at election time!

Office: 705-325-8964
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 523, Orillia, Ontario Canada L3V 6K2
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