By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
Online sports betting, given the green light by lawmakers last year, will get underway in North Carolina on March 11. Eager bettors can create accounts and deposit funds with gambling operators as soon as March 1. The dates, announced by the state lottery commission, which is tasked with overseeing the massive gambling expansion, fall on the eve of the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament.
More importantly, according to the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, they give ministers a few weeks to raise the alarm.
“As pastors and spiritual leaders, we have a responsibility to guide and protect our communities. With the imminent launch of sports gambling in our state, especially during March Madness, it is crucial that we speak out and preach about the inherent risks and dangers associated with gambling,” Creech said. “Let’s use our pulpits as a platform to educate our congregations about the potential harms it can bring to individuals and families.”
To that end, he compiled a list of Ten Concerns Associated with Sports Gambling, including an introduction outlining the New Testament perspective on wagering. Beyond the fact that sports gambling can foster addiction and compulsive behavior and lead to serious negative consequences, the document cites research showing that it can take a toll on mental health, worsen strained family relationships, and increase criminal activity. Because sports gambling is especially attractive to young people, Creech addresses the problems it can cause youth and the fact that it opens the door for match-fixing and corruption. His list also gives a heads-up on how we can expect sports betting to exacerbate social and economic inequality and how it normalizes and promotes risky behaviors.
Creech’s prayer is that pastors and parents will use the document to warn parishioners and teens not to experiment with sports betting and to reach out for help if they are already entangled by the vice.
“It is crucial to exercise caution and ensure that the door to gambling remains firmly closed in one’s life. The risks associated with this are too significant to ignore,” he said. “Good shepherds will raise awareness, and seek to fend off the wolves and protect the sheep. We must ensure our communities are well-informed and better equipped to navigate this new and treacherous challenge.”
The Christian Action League has long fought against the expansion of gambling in the state. Creech addressed committee meetings and met personally with lawmakers when the sports betting issue came up in 2022. He was among four lobbyists from organizations opposing the legislation, while the gambling industry had more than a dozen well-funded hired guns with staff members to help them. Despite the mismatch, the legislation failed in the House 52-49 when a group of liberal Democrats and socially conservative Republicans joined to vote it down.
However, when the issue arose again last year, it passed easily even though Republicans held a majority in both the House and Senate and despite impassioned pleas from opponents. Creech called the bill’s passage “exceedingly disappointing and disillusioning.”
According to the 2023 legislation, which made North Carolina the 30th state to allow sports betting, anyone 21 or older will be able to make wagers on pro, college, or Olympic-style sports from computers, tablets, or phones. The commission is reviewing applications from nine entities who want to take bets in the state. Two of those are from the Eastern Band of Cherokees and the Catawba Indian Nation, tribes that already offer sports betting at their casinos. The state is also opening the door to in-person sports gambling at certain venues and parimutuel betting on horse racing, although neither of these will start in March, officials have announced.
Bring The Ministry of Rev. Mark Creech to Your Church to Address the Issue of Gambling!
Is your congregation seeking a dynamic and passionate speaker to address the critical issue of gambling? Look no further than Rev. Mark Creech, whose calendar is wide open this year for speaking engagements!
Rev. Creech, anointed by the Lord for his preaching ministry, is well-known in the North Carolina General Assembly and churches throughout the state for his excellent speaking ability. His compelling and insightful presentations have left audiences inspired and informed.
Numerous pastors across the state have already invited him to speak on Sunday mornings, and they were thrilled with the results. Now, you have the opportunity to bring his expertise to your church and empower your congregation with valuable insights into the challenges posed by gambling. Whether addressed before sports betting begins with March Madness or afterward, it’s critical to equip God’s people to avoid the treacherous waters of gambling. Rev. Creech can help.
To schedule Rev. Mark Creech to speak at your church, contact the Christian Action League’s office at 919.787.0606 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss this opportunity for you and your church to hear a trusted and respected voice. Together, we can equip our communities with a solid Christian worldview to navigate the treacherous waters of gambling’s negative impact.