In the late 90s and early 2000s, I began to observe an increase in various forms of gambling in Canada; particularly in western Canada, there were more casinos and video lottery terminals in bars.
In recent years, I have observed the same kind of video lottery terminals in several bars in Atlantic Canada; thus far, Ontario has resisted them.
But casinos have spread greatly in Ontario in recent years, outside of some of the more obvious locations (some big cities, many native reserves), into small communities, as well. In the last couple of years or so, one even opened up in my small hometown, which surprised the heck out of me, as I didn’t see my area as the kind of place that would go in for them.
I am not altogether opposed to gambling, per se; I don’t believe it is outright condemned in and of itself in Scripture (yes, the casting of lots for Christ’s garments is depicted as the wicked thing that it certainly was, but not because of the gaming so much as the humiliation of an innocent man who is also God; after all, casting lots is shown in Scripture in general as a tool for decision-making, much like flipping a coin).
But as with other activities that are not wrong necessarily in moderation, but in excess are problematic (e.g. people enjoying some drinks at the pub or at home after work is one thing; people getting shit-faced, blackout-drunk, and puking on the streets like we see today in the U.K. in contrast to the healthier drinking culture of yesteryear is quite another), so too with gambling. A bit here and there, a few national and regional lotteries, a few casinos, a few horsetracks with betting, etc., no big deal for society; only for a handful of people with self-control issues. But video lottery terminals and casinos increasingly everywhere, that’s worrisome. We can expect to see more and more gambling addictions arising, the numbers increasing exponentially, the more gambling proliferates.
What is bringing this about?
Well, frankly, at the end of the day, I think it’s just greedy governments, greedy for increased tax revenues, and/or finding an easy way to boost tourism (and no doubt some corrupt officials on the take, in the pockets of would-be casino owners) – and business owners, esp. bars which play host to video lottery terminals, all too happy to go along with it, because they sell more drinks the longer people sit in the bar and play. I don’t blame business owners for wanting to maximize their profits nor not wanting to lose out to the competition down the street if they host such terminals, but I do blame governments for allowing / promoting such.
As for why the public enthusiastically embraces them, hey, it’s a thrill, and the lure of easy money for nothing is too much for many to resist. (Not me; I think I lack the gambling gene or whatever; I don’t even play lottery tickets, though I will enter occasionally contests to win a trip, or some charity 50:50 draws occasionally, but I don’t bet or go to casinos or the like, just because I have different interests, same as I’m not especially interested in sports, particularly. This of course doesn’t mean I’m better than others; just that my temptations / vices / weaknesses / preferred recreational activities happen to lie elsewhere.) And no doubt in hard times, it becomes even more of an escape, and something into which people place their hopes, rather than in God.
Anyway, just something I’ve noticed, of late; or rather, I’ve been noticing it over the last generation, but with recent increased rates of proliferation of gambling forms, I couldn’t help but be struck by it, and find myself contemplating it more.