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GAMBLING HURTS FAMILIES

It is estimated that each compulsive gambler adversely affects the lives of ten to twenty relatives, friends, and business associates (James Dobson, Solid Answers, 533).

Financial Drain. Gambling robs family funds. The American Psychiatric Association says, "Pathological gambling is extremely incapacitating and results in failures to maintain solvency or provide basic support for oneself or one's family." In simple terms, money needed for a family's food, clothing, medical care, housing, and education is wasted on tickets and tables. It doesn't stop when a gambler has lost everything, either. In Reno, "Gam Anon" was formed to help families of gamblers cope with common problems. Many wives complain that no matter how bad their husband's credit rating is, casinos extend practically limitless credit. A vice-president of Harrah's said, "If he gets into trouble ... it's his problem." One in every 66 households in Nevada files for bankruptcy-the highest rate in the nation.

Lest someone say, "It is just discretionary money. It won't hurt my family if I lose it," let's consider the "real world." Instead of helping the poor (as is argued), gambling exploits the poor (and gambling destroys philanthropy among the rich). The largest amount is taken from those who have the least and who, in desperation or foolhardiness, "invest" in gambling. Lotteries end up being a blind tax on the poor and the uneducated. Consider:

A Study in New Castle, Delaware found: "Poor persons bet three times more on a regular basis as those in upper middle income. In fact, most lottery machines were located in the poorest areas of the county, areas where unemployment is highest and the standard of living lowest. By contrast, not a single lottery machine was located in the high income areas of the county."

People in the lowest income bracket spend four times as much of their income on gambling as others. People earning less than $10,000 annually buy more lottery tickets than any other income group. They buy three times as much as those making more than $50,000. The average low-income player bets $597 a year.

High school drop-outs spend four times as much as college graduates on lotteries.

The Field Institute's California Poll found that 18% of the state's adults bought 7 1 % of the tickets. The heavy lottery players (buying more than twenty tickets in a contest's first 45 days) are "more likely than others to be ... poorer and less educated than the average Californian."

The Bible sharply condemns one who neglects his family: "...if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse  than an infidel" (I Tim. 5:8). God also said .  the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (2 Cor. 12:14).

Neglect. Gamblers rob the home of time (Eph. 5:16). In a day when work schedules and other time demands leave little time for parents to spend with children, recreational choices need to be made which allow family interaction.

Abuse. The money drain often leads to serious domestic problems.

Almost 20% of wife-abuse cases involve domestic tension resulting from compulsive gambling (Georgia Council on Moral and Civic Concerns). This number is likely much higher because many don't report abuse.

Compulsive gamblers are responsible for 13% of child abuse cases.

It is estimated that 60% of gambler's spouses are harassed by creditors; 61% become violent toward the gambler; 78% suffer from insomnia; 11% commit suicide.

God wants husbands to love and honor their wives (Eph. 5:25-29; 1 Pet. 3:7). He wants wives to love and respect their husbands (Tit. 2:4; Eph. 5:33). Each is to "provoke" the other "unto love and good works" (Heb. 10:24).

Divorce. Among gamblers, divorce rates are high. When compared to the general population, compulsive gamblers are five times more likely to have been married three or more times. God still hates "putting away" (Mal. 2:16); His Word still says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mt. 19:6b).

Suicide: Twenty-percent of addicted gamblers have attempted suicide, and the suicide rate of the spouses of compulsive gamblers is 150 times the national average. A study in Australia found that 81% of gamblers considered suicide, and 30% attempted it at least once in a 12-month period.

While pursuing the get-rich-quick dream, many have "pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6: 10). James Dobson, often promoted as America's leading family advocate, summed up the situation by stating: "As if the family didn't have enough enemies to deal with, now we have unleashed yet another monster to assault the institutions of marriage and parenthood" (532).

Are these the fruits of "harmless recreation?"