Billions of people love to gamble. For some, it’s the thrill of the chase – the possibility of winning. For others, it’s entertainment or a way to escape the day-to-day grind.
If you asked them, they’d tell you they’re not doing anything wrong. That gambling is no different or no more a waste of money than going to a movie, concert or nice dinner out.
But then there are people who disagree. That, for one reason or another, think there’s something wrong with gambling.
We thought it’d be interesting to explore the other side of the coin. So, the following are 6 arguments we’ve seen people make against gambling.
This is the biggest argument on our list. Do a Google search for ‘arguments against gambling’ and you’ll see what I mean.
There are different reasons why religious people are against gambling. But they all stem from different verses you’ll find in the Bible.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.
You shouldn’t try to gain material things when all your basic needs are met.
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
God wants you to work (for what you have). Gambling is a way to make money without working, which is fueled by greed, selfishness and laziness.
For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD hateth.
And yet another passage that condemns greed and overabundance.
The bottom line – the Bible teaches you to be selfless and not to covet (materialistic) things. And that you can save both time and money by not gambling – which you can use instead to better yourself and those around you.
But is gambling truly a sin? That depends on who you ask, how they interpret the Bible’s lessons, and whether or not they follow everything the Bible teaches.
Not surprising, some say gambling is a sin. No two ways about it; no ifs, ands or butts.
But then there are others who believe only compulsive gambling is a sin; it’s sinful to be addicted to gambling. But it’s not a sin to gamble in moderation.
“Bible-believing Christians would consider compulsive gambling a sin. That is, gambling is sinful for those who are addicted to it. Compulsive gamblers sin by wasting time. Gambling is for them such an addiction, that most or all of their spare time is spent gambling in one form or another and weekends and vacations which should be spent with family are taken up with trips to cities that have casinos. The more focus on gambling an addicted person becomes the less time he spends with his family and the less productive he becomes in his job.” (Excerpt from nolotto.faithweb.com)
2. Gambling Leads to Addiction
Another argument against gambling is that it leads to developing a gambling addiction. Statistics show that 80 percent of American adults gamble annually. What’s scary about that is they also show that every 3-5 gamblers (out of 100) struggle with a gambling problem.
Even scarier yet, statistics shows that as many as 750,000 young adults (14-21) have a gambling addiction. The risk of developing an addiction more than doubles for young adults, with people between the ages of 20 and 30 having the highest risk.
Gambling addiction – like most addictions – is destructive. It tears families apart and often leads to suicide, substance abuse, bankruptcy, crime and more.
3. It’s a Waste of Money
“I don’t really have a moral problem with it, but I don’t understand the concept. Call me crazy, but I do not get a thrill from losing money I’ve worked hard to earn. That’s not my idea of entertainment.”
He goes on to say he thinks people who say they gamble for fun or recreation are delusional – that they believe they’ll actually beat the house and win – that they’re an exception to the rule.
And what about the lucky few who actually win? Well, Dave says:
“You may see a news story once in a while about someone winning big money in a casino, but that rarely happens. Think, too, about how much money those people had flushed down the toilet previously while gambling. There’s a really good chance they didn’t really ‘win’ anything. In most cases, they probably just recouped a small portion of their previous, substantial losses.”
Mark Ford (serial entrepreneur, author, real estate investor) shares similar, yet different sentiments to Dave Ramsey. Ford says he doesn’t gamble because it’s too much like work; he gets no pleasure from it; and because it’s so clear to him he’d lose money.
He goes on to say you could spend the same amount of effort into nearly any other endeavor and you’re likely to walk away richer, not poorer, as a result.
“Concentration. Focus. Calculations. Long hours. It all seems like work to me. The only difference is that in Las Vegas the odds are stacked against you.
In any other field of endeavor, you could take the same people and put them to work doing virtually these same things concentrating, figuring, calculating, and executing and you’d have almost certainly a viable business.
Not in Las Vegas. Over the long haul, gambling makes you poorer. Spend the same time and effort in almost any other endeavor, and you’re likely to get richer.
So why is it that so many people like to gamble and don’t like to work?”
4. Millennials Want Control
Another argument stems from stats that show millennials (people born from 1980-2000) gamble far less than previous generations. An interesting fact is how Las Vegas and The Strip visitation is increasingly being driven by millennials, yet gaming accounts for less than 37% of the revenue generated on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Motley Fool gives several reasons (guesses) why:
- Millennials find (current) slot machines boring.
- They want to be engaged and empowered – they want some control over the outcome.
- They prefer night clubs to casino gambling.
- They’re more interesting in online gaming, poker and daily fantasy sports.
- They want skill based games.
- They demand fairness.
- They want to be more social.
- They want experiences.
The common denominator here is that millennials want more control over their outcome. They want games where skill can overcome luck – and that’s just not possible when every casino game favors the house.
And why do all casino games favor the house?
5. Casino Games are Rigged
Did you know that every casino game favors the house? It might be by as little as half a percent (.5%), but the point is, casino games are rigged against you. This is called the house edge.
“My advice is don’t waste your time and money on that stuff. One way or another, the house always wins. That’s how they’re able to build those giant, billion-dollar places called casinos”. – Dave Ramsey
In the same article referenced above (#4), the Motley Fool says that millennials wanting more skill-based games (control) isn’t the (only) problem.
In Las Vegas specifically, the house edge – or the hold percentage – has increased over the last few decades. In other words, the games were already rigged against you – but now they’re even more unfair. You can find better value gambling somewhere other than Las Vegas (at local casinos, for example).
“…the underlying assumption is that if millennials weren’t spending their money partying in Las Vegas, they would be spending it gambling in Las Vegas (either that, or millennials apparently should be gambling more to match what they’re spending on bottle service)”.
“This is 100% wrong – the reality is that if millennials weren’t spending their money partying in Las Vegas, they wouldn’t be coming to Las Vegas at all”. – The Motley Fool
The Motley Fool goes on to say that, while gambling has matured, so has the audience. Millennials have grown up using the internet – they have access to (gambling) information that past generations didn’t have access to.
“(Millennials) are more knowledgeable and generally less stupid about gambling than any generation to come before us. We are far less likely to believe, for example, that the Martingale system is valid”. – The Motley Fool
The bottom line – the internet has made us wiser about gambling. Most people now realize that casino games are (legally) rigged against us. Between this and the worsening house edge, people choose to gamble far less, if at all (evident by the decreasing gaming numbers in Las Vegas).
6. Underage Gambling
Another problem people have with gambling is the affects gambling has on kids and young adults.
This is a very real concern. Earlier (#2) we shared a stat that says nearly 750,000 young adults have developed a gaming addiction, and that they’re nearly twice as likely to do compared to adults aged 30+.
Most casinos say you need to be 18 or 21 (depending on if they serve alcohol) to gamble.
Never mind the stats that show that even adults 18-30 are twice as likely to develop a gambling addiction. What about those who are younger than 18/21, but manage to obtain a fake ID?
Want an example? What about poker pro Phil Ivey – you can’t read a bio about him without it being mentioned he used a fake ID to play poker in Atlantic City in his early days.
This problem isn’t limited to brick/mortar casinos, either. Poker pro Tom Dwan started playing online at 17. He’s not the only one, either. It’s easier for kids/teenagers to gamble online since many casinos (especially offshore) don’t check your ID until you’re ready to make your first cash out.
Next to addiction and religious reasons, underage gambling is the strongest argument people make against gambling. The prevention of underage gambling is a cornerstone of all state (online) gambling laws, as well as a big criticism of others.
These are the biggest and most common arguments against gambling today.
It’s not hard to poke holes or make strong cases against any of these points. But that shouldn’t be our focus.
Instead, I think it’s a much better idea to understand why people are against it. For one, it’s easier to empathize with others – to see where they’re coming from.
But it can also help us improve the gambling industry – to talk about it and figure out what we can do to make the industry safer and more enjoyable for those who choose to participate. That, I think, is the best action of all.