Number Fifty-One

Tealiberasophoterianistic Perspectives

Gambling, Politics and Theology: Part 2

with 6 comments

By Joey Phillips 

This is a continuation of my post on Friday, where I addressed some of the theological issues surrounding gambling (including poker, when played for anything valuable). I provided a basic definition of what gambling is, and is not, and argued that gambling for any significant amount breaks biblical principles of charity, stewardship, and wisdom. Obviously the “any significant amount” is open for debate, and establishes that I would not argue that gambling is always a sin. I would argue that it is similar to alcohol consumption: It is wonderful in moderation, but wisdom is needed because it naturally lends itself to excess.

I didn’t get to the second question I asked in the last post, which is what I want to do today.

Should Gambling Be Illegal?

I am not asking if it should be illegal across the board…banned from the USA. Obviously it should not, since we don’t live in China or Cuba.  So the question is better asked this way: Should the government be involved in regulating both access to, and operation of, gambling?  

Right now there are all sorts of laws regarding gambling. I would say there are a plethora of laws regarding gambling. Just in Florida there are quite a few statutes and laws regarding what it takes to legally offer gambling at your establishment. Hosting a game of poker at your own residence for stakes of more than ten dollars is illegal. Casinos and card rooms are heavily regulated by the government. As a Republican who loves the idea of small government, obviously you know where I land on this………I love it.

I hear the cries of my libertarian leaning friends already. You can’t legislate morality! And gambling isn’t even immoral! You say you want small government and then turn around and want it to punish everybody you disagree with! Etc.

First of all, you can legislate morality; in fact that’s the only reason for a legislature, but that’s a topic for a different time. In this case, the dangers involved with unregulated and unsupervised gambling are too great for the government not to be involved. Like with drugs (including alcohol), common sense laws should be in place to protect people. Just like sane people understand that alcohol consumption needs to be regulated to ensure safety, we should recognize that gambling needs to be regulated.

It is easy to see why criminals would be attracted to gambling. Suckers spending way too much money trying to beat the odds, and then they can’t give it up and keep coming back to give you their money? It’s easy to see why folks with no consciences would want to be running casinos. As long as you can look past how you are earning your money, and just concentrate on the fact that you are earning it, then running a casino is for you. Until the federal government threatened to step in and intervene in Vegas in the 60’s it was riddled with organized crime, all sorts of financial chicanery, false ownership etc.[1]  This is one of the main reasons government should be involved in gambling. Its main job (restraining evil) is needed in an industry based on cash, loose morals and desperate people. Vegas proved this, and proved that government intervention, or jus the threat of it, is effective in helping to clean up a corrupt system.

Now I know some will say  “Forget casinos…that’s big business, who cares about them…but get the government out of my house! I can play poker in my home and the government shouldn’t have any say in it!” I sympathize with this view and actually so does the government, which is why they allow for small cash games. I see the statutes and laws regarding cash games at home as similar to speed limits. They are guidelines, and somewhat flexible, but ignore the spirit behind them and you can get punished. I like this.

Gambling, by nature, is extremely susceptible to criminal activity.[2] Government therefore, should keep a weather eye on it. 


[2] I don’t think this is debatable. Not only because of its historical association with crime, but because of the fact that it(s) 1)based on people taking money from each other based on chance and with no formal contract involved 2)involves cash floating around, oftentimes in large quantities 3) requires one to not care that one’s own benefit is at someone else’s expense (which is a criminal mindset) 4) relies on suckers, which provides a criminal with a pool of his favorite targets 5) attracts desperate people (48% of Gamblers Anonymous participants surveyed have serious considered suicide, 13% to the point of attempting it)


Written by Jake Phillips

June 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. The government doesn’t regulate drinking. It regulates drinking and driving (and drinking in public.) I guess this correlates to regulating casinos without regulating home games.

    Jake Phillips

    June 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    • The government also heavily regulates who can sell alcohol, when they can sell it, and who they can sell it to. It’s certainly not as restricted as gambling, but more than most goods or services.


      June 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

  2. and the legal age you can purchase it etc


    June 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

  3. It’s a good argument. I wish I could find something to disagree with. Once I discover some insidious motive in between a few of your lines, I’ll be all over you…

    Jesse P.

    June 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm

  4. “First of all you can legislate morality; in fact that’s the only reason for legislature.” Joey, can you write something on that statement n perhaps tie it in with Ron Paul and extreme libertarians, from your very republican/ conservative view point? That should be a solid topic.


    June 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  5. Sure thing. It’ll be next week.


    June 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm

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