Friday, May 4, 2012


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The purpose of this primary research report is to analyse the role and response of religious traditions to Gambling in a contemporary Australian society,

Through the thorough analysis of the instruments that can be used to compose this report, the most appropriate was observations. I chose this instrument as I thought that this will help me compose the most efficient and advanced report from the various instruments that could be used.

The specific instrument that I employed to compose this report was observations from various newspaper articles, websites, encyclopedia’s and text books. I used specific and relevant quotes from scriptures, and current organisational leaders in order to demonstrate the role and response of religious traditions to gambling in contemporary Australian society.

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This assessment task contains my final report which summarises my findings and draws conclusions on the role and response of religious traditions to gambling. It also contains a full ‘Annotated Bibliography’ and some secondary research that I was able to collect.

Gambling � Research Report

It seems that most societies engage in some form of gambling, as it has developed to be an extension of entertainment. However, gambling takes on a new meaning because stakes are introduced, leading to risk-taking. In some cultures there are sanctions against gambling because of a prevailing view that gaining something purely through luck or chance is morally unsound.

Statistics from a report on Australia’s gambling industries by the productivity commission indicated that around 0 000 Australians (.% of adult population) are estimated to have more significant gambling problems, with 140 000 adults experiencing severe problems. Also problem gamblers comprise 15% of regular (non-lottery) gamblers and account for over $ billion in losses annually � one-third of the total gambling industries market. It also states that the total turnover of gambling in Australia in 17 and 18 was $5 billion and the cost to gamblers was $11. billion, of this $.8 billion is collected in taxes by state and territory governments. Many of the harms experienced by problem gamblers can be traced back to gambling and not other life events or personality features of the gambler.

As you can see, this report by the productivity commission designates that the gambling industry presents itself as just a harmless entertainment operation, which in some form, has been revealed over many years to be misleading. Also the industry attempts to put the blame for problem gambling onto gamblers themselves which has also been revealed to be incorrect.

Gambling is not just wrong through its statistics due to the fact that a person is losing money and becoming mentally detrimental, but also in religion and it’s thought on gambling.

Christianity believes that gambling is morally wrong because it encourages and instigates human greed instead of faith in God. From this Christians can strongly say that gambling is an evil that should be avoided due to the fact that people will make money their God. It comes from the first of the Ten Commandments “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other Gods before me.”

Gambling is also wrong because it is materialistic. Its appeal comes from a belief that wealth is the most important thing to gain in life.

Gambling is also seen inadequate in a Christian judgement given that it causes effects on the gambler, such as irresponsibility, mental problems and suicide, gambling is also addictive. Through this are causes of social evil, crime and problems, which affect third parties other than the gambling victim.

Another reason why gambling is wrong is because it exploits human weakness and addiction for financial gain, and as such is a case of the rich and the powerful exploiting others, something which the Bible consistently condemns.

Christianity deals with gambling through many denominational charities such as the ‘Saint Vincent de Paul society’. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society deals with problem gambling on a daily basis by providing counseling networks and programs. One of the coordinators of this society Mr Dennis Borham shared some remarkable insight into the problems that gambling causes “…5% of our clients have admitted to current legal problems because of gambling”. Another charity is called the ‘Interchurch Gambling Task Force’ (ITGF) which works within the social welfare industry and focuses on the corrosive social effects of gambling. It comprises of many church leaders from various denominations such as, Baptist Union, Salvation Army etc. The spokesperson is Reverend Tim Costello.

The Uniting Church opposes gambling but permits small scale gambling such as parish fund-raising activities which is often associated with Catholicism.

Not only is gambling wrong in Christianity, it also has been proven wrong in Islam.

Islam adopted this view, and discouraged participation in games of change, as it somehow represented interfering in divine law. Indeed Islamic teaching suggests that by indulging in games of chance, human beings are attempting to meddle with “blind” fate and therefore inadvertently mock the divine plan in which nothing is left to chance. This teaching is also conveyed in the Quran which is used as a weapon in order to deter Muslims away from gambling “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination - of Satans handwork that ye may prosper. Satans plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer will ye not then abstain? (The Noble Quran, 50-1)”.

We have seen how gambling is often wrong in Christianity and also Islam, but gambling is also seen wrong in Judaism.

Judaism like Christianity believes that gambling is prioritizing money and wealth before yourself, others and most importantly of God, which can be traced back to the old testament that states in the ten commandments “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other Gods before me” . This commandment is the number one law in Judaism and this is why Judaism disallows gambling. It is considered so close to theft that in Jewish law the professional gambler is not allowed to be a witness in court. The gambler does not “promote the welfare of the world” and that is one of the positive Mitzvot of the Torah.

We have seen from three religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism that gambling is wrong and as they condemn the new age entertainment because of their beliefs. The response of Buddhism to the issue of gambling is unknown as Buddhists have no central body which determines its attitudes to social issues, however, Buddhists are guided by the five moral precepts of not killing, not stealing, not being involved in improper sexual acts, not lying or deceiving and not taking intoxicants. These determine their behaviors. Buddhists should refrain from any behavior, which harms oneself or others. Accordingly, a wise Buddhist would not involve themselves in gambling, which is both harmful to one’s self and others.

One point seems certain “People of the Book”, whose traditions have come to them through the Judaic-Christian-Islamic heritage of monotheism, have religious and moral sanctions in place against gambling. In many instances throughout history, this has been translated into formal government policy, leaving those who gamble to incur the consequences of flouting the rules and laws of church and state. Despite this, people continue to gamble, for many reasons.

Indeed people who come from neo-Confucian cultures may approach gambling and concepts of luck and chance from a different mindset which holds that those who play for money are not transgressing a moral law. Instead they are testing Karma or fate.

Gambling in the neo-Confucian context may be contrasted to gambling in the Judaic-Christian-Islamic tradition, which through received religious teachings maintains sanctions against indulging in games of chance and personal gain. In this context, people have to go outside those precepts to engage in gambling.

Christianity has a relation to both Islam and Judaism as they both believe that gambling is morally wrong and the influences of that has affected the up bringing of Australia through out the years some of these are

- Churches are increasingly vocal opponents of gambling, particularly the Baptist and Uniting churches who have been involved in government enquiries etc. into problem gambling.

- Reverend Tim Costello leads the anti-gambling movement in Australia, and has done so for a decade.

- Costello is involved in the politics as well as the theology of gambling.

- Involved in Church and state measures to deal with gambling.

- “We don’t have problem gamblers; we have problem machines in a problem industry”.

It is important to re-emphasise that each of these religions described above are favoured due to their loathing towards gambling. The extent of gambling is now so large, that there is increased questioning on whether the problem can be dissipated due to the fact that gambling has travelled from pubs to the internet. As you can see through statistical evidence, gambling is very much apart of our current society as it encompasses the notion of ‘new age entertainment’ which most religions detest and disallow.

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