May 2011: Gambling

May 4, 2011

Imagine filling more than 214 NFL football stadiums to capacity with men, women and children who have some form of addiction to gambling. Yes, that would be weird – probably awkward, too.

According to a survey done more than a decade ago, that would be more than 15 million adults and children in the U.S. that had a problem or pathological addiction to gambling. Today, addiction counselors estimate number of pathological and problem gambling addictions in the U.S. is closer to 20 million, or 286 NFL stadiums filled to capacity.

This month, we’d like to raise awareness about gambling, look at it from a Christian perspective, and discuss how it can impact those around us and how we can be a part of the solution.

Let’s be honest. Most people - including Millennials – tend to discount gambling and gambling addiction, with a casual air of complacency. Oh, that’s too bad for them. He/she just couldn’t handle it, I guess. Hmm, too bad. Glad it’s no big deal for me. Come on; let’s hit the slots and poker tables!

But unless you have a relative or friend who’s addicted to gambling, it probably means nothing to you. Should it matter? Does gambling addiction affect you in ways unseen?

Consider for a moment that each of the people filling a seat in 214 or more NFL stadiums will have a negative impact on at least 10 to 17 people. We’re talking at least 150 million other people who experience negative repercussions from gambling addiction – that’s at least half of the United States population. Addiction, bankruptcy, crime, divorce, domestic violence, ruined families and suicide litter the lives of those addicted to gambling.

But if gambling addiction is so prevalent, you ask, why don’t we see – or notice – it more?

Gambling is known as the silent addiction. Gambling cannot be seen in bloodshot eyes; it cannot be smelled in someone’s breath; it cannot be detected in someone’s blood or urine; it cannot be seen on someone’s face or by their observable actions in the workplace. I suppose gambling addiction is similar to cancer in that it’s stealthy, invisible and deadly.

As a millennial, you can do a lot to help educate your friends and community about the dangers of gambling and addiction. Join us as we learn more about this topic – and about the many practical ways we can become part of the solution.

Did You Know

International

  • Of the 195 countries in the world: 80 allow Internet gambling; 30 specifically prohibit Internet gambling; other countries have no laws regarding online gambling.
  • Worldwide, the typical Internet gambler is predominately male with a college degree, who is more likely to be a student and less likely to be married.  [Wood, Williams, pp. 48-49]
  • Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment, Inc.) is the single largest casino operator in the world, with casinos in seven countries on five different continents. In 2010, they reported revenues of $8.8 billion, $6.9 billion of which was derived from gamblers losing to the House (casino).
  • The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida bought the entire international and U.S. Hard Rock Café hotel and casino franchise in 2006 for $965 million using revenues from their U.S.-based tribal casinos.

Domestic

  • Annual costs to society, per person, with problem and/or pathological addictions to gambling are $2,945 per problem gambler and $10,330 per pathological gambler every year.
  • Gambling fails the cost-benefit test, as the costs of gambling outweigh the benefits by a ratio greater than 3:1.
  • Internet gambling is illegal in the United States at the federal level, but some foreign casinos still solicit U.S. customers illegally and in violation of U.S. law. Several illegal, foreign casino operators have been prosecuted by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
  • One in five people who enter a casino and gamble will is likely to have lasting problems, possibly resulting in addiction.
  • One in five people with problem and/or pathological gambling addictions will attempt suicide; one in 10 of their spouses will attempt suicide.
  • The availability of a casino within 50 miles is associated with about double the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.

Dig Deeper

More Fact Sheets related to gambling’’s impact on:

Get Involved

CitizenLink.com Join this e-mail-alert service to stay in touch with issues, including gambling expansion, that are of concern to the Christian community. Subscribe here.
Also, visit the CitizenLink.com Blog section for gambling issues here.

Find Others in Your State and Community who share the same view as you – people who know the social costs and harms of gambling and are willing to stand in opposition to gambling expansion. Create a group email to communicate with each other (Google Groups or Yahoo! Groups are two options). Visit Web-sites that track gambling expansion (mentioned in the Dig Deeper section). Take the lead in starting a group in your state or area if none currently exists – millennials are great leaders!

Find Your State and Congressional Leaders using our Citizen Action site – Contact them with your concerns regarding gambling or gambling expansion in your state of community. You can use a PDF pamphlet titled What Pay-Off Can You Expect from Gambling. Print it out or read it online for talking points. This makes a great supplement to any letter, as well.

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