By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
September 8, 2023
Casinos by their very nature violate God’s law because they oppress the poor, undermine stewardship and break the Ten Commandments, a leading opponent of expanding gambling told a crowd in Nash County last week.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, urged North Carolina citizens during the meeting at Rise Church’s Rocky Mount campus to speak out against casino expansion in the state.
Republican leaders have floated the idea of new casinos in Anson, Nash and Rockingham Counties. Currently, the only casinos in North Carolina are owned by Native American tribes in the western part of the state.
“Gambling not only poses a grave threat to the financial stability of individuals and families, but more importantly, it jeopardizes the very foundations of liberty,” Creech said. “From the addictive nature of gaming activities to the devastating consequences it inflicts upon individuals and our collective social fabric, it is crucial we address the issue not in a shallow way, but in a manner that gets to the root of it.”
Casino expansion, he said, violates the Eighth Commandment against stealing.
“While gambling masks itself as harmless entertainment, the odds are always stacked against the players, stealing away their dollars and sometimes even their lives,” Creech said. “Gaming is, without question, an effort to obtain someone else’s property without providing anything of value in return. That’s why many have rightly referred to it as a form of consensual theft.
“Now some will try to justify gambling by insisting that playing is strictly something voluntary. ‘Nobody is stealing from anyone,’ they object. ‘No one forces people to gamble. They do so of their own free will.’ But just because someone does something of their own free will, doesn’t justify exploiting their weakness for our own gain, when the Scriptures command that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). In other words, unlike other legitimate business practices where both parties in a transaction gain, gambling creates a scenario in which people are widely duped of their possessions in a ‘something for nothing exchange,’ which truly is nothing less than a form of theft.”
Gambling also violates the Tenth Commandment against coveting, Creech said.
“Covetousness is essentially an inordinate desire to possess money, property, or something that belongs to someone else,” Creech said. “There are only three ways to legitimately acquire property in life: 1) as a gift, 2) as a payment for labor, and 3) in a fair exchange of goods. Anything else is but a form of covetousness and gaming certainly doesn’t fit any of these criteria. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., has written: ‘The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed — a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Scripture repeatedly addresses greed, covetousness, and avarice as a sin against God, often with graphic warnings of the destruction that is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death.’
Creech added, “The apostle Paul warned, ‘People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (1 Timothy 6:9-10).”
Gambling also oppresses the poor, Creech said, citing Zechariah 7:10.
“There is no question that gambling preys on the desperation of the poor,” Creech said. “David Frum, a special assistant for former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002, recently contributed an article to CNN that provided information from independent research done by the Institute of American Values. Here’s what Frum said: ‘The industry as a whole, targets precisely those who can least afford to lose and earns most of its living from people for whom gambling has become an addiction. [An Institute for American Values] report cites a Canadian study that finds that 75 percent of casino customers who play only occasionally provide only 4 percent of casino revenues. It’s the problem gambler who keeps the casino in business. … Before the spread of casino gambling, the IAV comments, the typical gambler was more affluent than average: it costs money to travel to Las Vegas. That’s no longer true. Low-income workers and retirees provide the bulk of customers for the modern casino industry. And because that industry becomes an important source of government revenue, the decision to allow casino gambling is a decision to shift the cost of government from the richer to the poorer, and, within the poor, to a subset of vulnerable addiction problems.”
Noting gambling’s impact on stewardship, Creech said, “Gambling risks in a whim what God has graciously given.”
“The odds are always against the gambler,” he said. If the gambler plays long enough, he’s going to lose. … Gambling is not stewardship, it’s just stupidity. And why would any of us with good judgment want to use so foolishly what God has so graciously given?