I know some fellow protestants who go to the local casinos every now and then to play the slots, black jack, poker – you name it. I know other protestants who consider it a sin and don’t go at all and that any money won is "dirty money’.
I know some Catholics who go to the casinos and some who don’t go.
I know some people who religiously put down $20 or so every week on the lottery.
If there an official Catholic stance on whether gambling and lottery participation is a sin or is it treated like alcohol where it is ok to do in moderation?
I’ve heard stories of how some people can get addicted to it and lose the house payment money (or worse) in gambling or the lottery while others seem to be able to keep their spending under control and have fun while doing it.
What is your faith tradition’s stance on this activity?
I don’t like gambling at casinos but I went line dancing in the old Frontier casino in Vegas, which has since been replaced sadly. It had a mechanical bull, I think it was the only one on the strip. And I remember there were good restaurants and lots of shops you don’t see elsewhere.
Official Catholic teaching is that making wagers are not sinful unless they become an addictive danger to one’s ability to support themselves and/or their family. Organized, institutional casinos can be more problematic for other reasons, but if you want to look at it this way: the Church isn’t going to call it a sin if two brothers place a 5 buck bid over who wins a sports match.
That being said, you would have to make a pro-active effort of ignorance to not see that casinos have a tendency to attract bad company. That doesn’t mean you must not go to them. The list of of things that are always inherently sinful is a very small list. Normally it just comes down to how you choose to approach different situations. I don’t personally ever go to casinos, but that’s not out of any religious conviction to never go, and it never will be. It’s just when I’m looking for some R&R, a casino isn’t something I would be interested in. I prefer to have hobbies that add to my overall utility as a complete human being, such as cooking, reading, sports/exercise, certain movies & music, etc. Some gambling games can be good for math & memory, but overall I would put casinos in the same category as video games. I don’t see work and leisure as ideally being two completely separate things. I like for my work to be fun, and for my fun to be productive. To me, that seems like an ideal lifestyle, and it’s something I’ve been working on moving towards.
Thanks for the replies, Havard and TK421. I like your approach, TK421. It makes a lot of sense and sounds like a balanced approach. I didn’t consider this to be a moral absolute kind of issue, either, but I know some people do and I respect their point of view because some people can get addicted and bad things can happen as a result.
I’ve never gone to the local casino but once at a business conference in Reno, Nevada, I limited myself to $100 and played blackjack one day and won some money the first night only to lose it all the next night on the slots. It was fun but I didn’t bet or lose much and usually went to the table where the minimum bet was the cheapest so I could stay alive longer, lol.
I also have played the lottery a couple of times in the past year, putting down about $15 or so each time. Since I’m still employed, you can guess how that turned out. :o
There are still some Catholic churches that hold Bingo on Friday nights. So I think as long as it is not addictive behavior it is okay. If you gamble with the money that is supposed to be used to pay bills, buy the clothes and food for the family that is not good.
I can only reply as to my own experience and knowledge of gambling and casinos. I have my fair share. If you walk into one and really look there are alot of broken people and broken lives. They are truly evil places. They survive in my opinion on taking your money, as much as they possibly can. Responsible gaming is very hard for a lot of people. Putting the responsible gaming issue aside, it is just and ugly and awful place full of sadness sometimes well hidden by people.
If you are walking in look at the faces and eyes of those leaving. In the end, I agree it comes down to “dirty money.” The Greed, and plenty of near occasions of sin waiting in the wings. I choose today not even to walk into one period. First, and foremost for spiritual reasons. There is nothing gained spiritually for me to enter into a place full of so many ugly things as well as temptations for both venial and mortal sin. I see no joy at all there. None. Nothing of God there either. Just much pain, and so much ugliness. My opinion is that the beast really enjoys the destruction, confusion, and all else that comes from gambling. They get rich on other peoples pain and suffering. I have to account to myself in a daily examination of conscience. I cannot ever recommend this to anyone.
God Bless you
It sounds like this issue has affected you profoundly, DannyBoy. I respect your opinion very much.
Someone once told me, “Those casinos are so nice looking because they tend to take more of your money than you win back from them”. Like the lottery, the house usually wins.
However, I know some folks who seem to be able to have a ‘Casino Night’ with friends once in awhile and seem to keep their spending under control and actually seem to enjoy the experience, but I agree with you that there is potential risk that this behavior can turn from fun to addiction for some, so if there is any doubt – don’t do it.
Because people don’t play until they win, they play until they loose.
I was born in Reno, Nevada. My mother actually worked as a dealer at Harrah’s Club to help put my dad through college at the Mackay School of Mines. I remember her telling me to never judge another person. She said that she would recite the rosary (silently) as she was dealing cards; “so you never know what is going on inside of another person”. lol.
But she also witnessed a lot of pain and suffering directly attributable to the Casinos.
When I go anywhere I talk to the people around me. At the grocery store, gas station, department store, I talk to the people in line with me and fellow shoppers. I make friends in restaurants, bowling allies, at parks and community events, and in everyone of these places I run into at least one person I already know (usually more than one) and of course I talk to them. So it was a huge surprise that NO ONE one around you in a casino wants to talk. It was like an old Star Trek episode where these people are moving so much faster than the crew that they can’t see or hear each other.
My DH and I each had 100 dollars to gamble with and we went off to try our luck each according to their whimsy. After an hour all I wanted to do was go, he was having a good time not talking to anyone:) Mind you he can be quite the chatterbox once he gets going but that switch don’t flip so easy so he was okay with the silent treatment and said you still have 40 or 50 dollars left, we’ll go when you’re out of money.
I could not make that money disappear fast enough and another hour later was insistent (or whiny) I wanted to leave, I still had 20 dollars left. So we decided (or he got tired of listening to me) I would spend my last 20 on the roulette wheel then we would go. I just love the sound of the ball bouncing around in that thing. So 3 tries later I manage to get the guy to take my 20 (something about only one persons cash on the table) and lose it. Yeah finally I can leave, but no, now he’s really winning one spin after another. It took another hour to get out.
We haven’t been back since, he could go if he wants a couple of his friends and cousins go intermittently but he doesn’t. I’ll never go again because there’s no one to talk to, I guess when I go out I find the best part of any activity is the people around me and gambling is serious business that requires a persons full attention. I’d bet gamblers find me annoying, even casual ones.