Resolution Opposing Gambling in New York State
Adopted by the Council
The New York State Council of Churches:
- Supports strict regulation of gambling and enforcement of the Internet gambling ban.
- Opposes Governor Cuomo’s plan for expansion of casino gambling in
New York State while honoring the sovereignty of our Native American
- Encourages our church members to refrain from all forms of gambling practices carried on in our communities.
- Seeks to influence community organizations to develop forms of funding that do not depend upon gambling.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their
eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and
pierced themselves with many pains. 1 Timothy 6:10, NRSV
The overwhelming influence of gambling monies allows this industry
access to all levels of government and extends even to elected public
officials who benefit from contributions to their campaigns.
The New York State Council of Churches has been concerned about this
issue for many years. In 1992, the Council stated: “Gambling is
destructive to personal initiative and can become compulsive by offering
illusory hopes of sudden fortune.” The church is often a "voice crying
in the wilderness" as states, counties, and cities look to gambling
revenue as an answer to filling budget gaps. U.S. society does not want
to pay for the services we expect from government, raising taxes is
anathema while balancing state and local budgets through gambling is
The Christian faith teaches us that hope is something to practice
and aspire to. It can protect us from discouragement, separate us from
selfishness, and sustain us in times of grief or trial. Hope can keep us
properly focused, and keep us oriented toward the good. Hope’s main
competitor is luck. To believe in luck is to believe that getting what
we desire is a matter primarily governed by chance, or by unknown forces
beyond our reach.
Hope and luck are incompatible ways of seeing the world. A world
we believe is governed by hope is a world that is meaningful. A world
we believe is governed by luck is a world that is random. A reliance on
hope fosters positive activity—hopeful is something we can “be,” and
hope is something we can live out and practice. By contrast, a reliance
on luck fosters passivity—lucky is something we simply “get,” and luck
is something that just happens to us, like the weather.
The principal tenet of gambling is luck -- luck powerful and
magical enough to overcome the mathematical laws of the universe, since
every gambler is placing a bet against a system that has every
mathematical law of probability firmly on its side.
Gambling depends on undermining hope and replacing it with a belief in luck as the pathway to success and happiness.
Gambling is a terrible example of stewardship of the resources God
gives us; it creates social costs that are hidden and often do not
become apparent until long after lotteries, casinos, betting parlors and
game rooms have become entrenched in communities.
The National Research Council found that "many families of
pathological gamblers suffer from a variety of financial hardships" and
"children of compulsive gamblers are more likely to engage in delinquent
behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and using drugs" as well as an
increased risk of becoming pathological gamblers.
It is hard to measure the cost to our society of job loss,
unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, poor physical and mental
health, and treatment for problem and pathological gamblers.
From the United Methodist Book of Resolutions 2003:
Gambling, as a means of acquiring material gain by chance
and at the neighbor's expense, is a menace to personal character and
social morality. Gambling fosters greed and stimulates the fatalistic
faith in chance. Organized and commercial gambling is a threat to
business, breeds crime and poverty, and is destructive to the interests
of good government. It encourages the belief that work is unimportant,
that money can solve all our problems, and that greed is the norm for
achievement. It serves as a 'regressive tax' on those with lower income.
In summary, gambling is bad economics; gambling is bad public policy;
and gambling does not improve the quality of life.