Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Ethics, Morality, and Sin

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Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Post #1

Post by jgh7 »

Is gambling ethically right, wrong, or neither? Does it depend on the degree to which you gamble? Does it depend on your reasons for gambling? Does it depend on the type of gambling you do? Does the bible have any quotes relating to gambling?

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Post #11

Post by 2ndRateMind »

Here in the UK, we have quite a number of lotteries. And every so often, when greed gets the better of me, I partake. It would be nice to have no more money worries, and nicer still to support my preferred charities to the extent they deserve.

Right or wrong?

From a utilitarian (outcome) perspective, they make everyone who doesn't win marginally less happy, to the extent of their stake. And the winner ecstatically happy, to the extent of the winnings. Can one balance these outcomes, to arrive at a clear conclusion? Perhaps the consideration that the charitable sector benefits hugely from the activity weighs the balance in favour of gambling on the national lotteries.

From deontological (rule) perspective, I find no laws against gambling in the Bible, though some denominations forbid the practice. In the absence of solid instruction from God on this, I tend to go with Oscar Wilde (as he borrowed from Petronius); 'moderation in all things, including moderation!'

From a virtue ethics perspective (the flourishing of character), I can't see that the occasional flutter on horses or dogs or bingo or lotteries is detrimental to most, though some people, of course, are devastated by an addiction to the adrenalin. Meanwhile, it seems that avarice is the driver of this activity, and it is probably not a good idea to encourage this 'deadly' sin.

I do find, though, that my sparse participation in lotteries allows me to dream of a way of life I could not otherwise contemplate, legitimately. It gives me hope. And I find pleasure to be had in that hope. Nevertheless, I concede that addicts spend far too much on gambling, and that deprives them of hope.

So, as I ramble, I am beginning to arrive at a conclusion. It seems that self-control is a vital ingredient if one is going to gamble, and that those who lack such self-control should be protected from their deficiency by voluntary and/or compulsory means. Gambling is not necessarily always wrong, though for some people it may be, just as drinking alcohol is not necessarily always wrong, though for some people it may be.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Post #12

Post by McCulloch »

Let's look at the economics of lotteries. They take a small amount of money from a large number of people and benefit the public through charities, which arguably should be supported by taxes. So, in that way, they are like a tax. Poorer and less educated people tend to spend a greater percentage of their income on lotteries than richer and better educated. So, you might call it a gullibility tax. What can one say about something that can be described as regressive (it hits the poor harder than the rich) and exploitive (those with a more tenuous grasp on statistics and/or economics are bearing a greater burden)?

But lotteries have another economic effect. There are a few big winners. There are so few winners and so many poor people that the winners do not significantly reduce the poverty rate. But the winners do increase the numbers of multimillion rich people. The effect of big prize lotteries is to increase the disparity between rich and poor. How can this be described as a moral good?
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #13

Post by 2ndRateMind »

So, whether by taxation or donation, I consider it to be a good idea that good causes, such as medical research, the succour of the poor, spiritual education, and so on, are supported. I am less inclined to think that sports, arts and animal welfare causes are priorities, but some consider them so, and who am I to say they are wrong? Whatever, lotteries are a fairly painless, voluntary method of gathering money, unlike taxation which is always resented, and direct patronage, that doesn't seem to be sufficiently effective to right all the world's wrongs.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Re:

Post #14

Post by Bust Nak »

2ndRateMind wrote: Thu May 04, 2017 6:31 am From a utilitarian (outcome) perspective, they make everyone who doesn't win marginally less happy, to the extent of their stake...
Does it really though? Is the fleeting moment of hope and thrill alone not worth the price of entry? There are people who are happy win or lose.

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Re: Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Post #15

Post by nobspeople »

jgh7 wrote: Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:19 pm Is gambling ethically right, wrong, or neither? Does it depend on the degree to which you gamble? Does it depend on your reasons for gambling? Does it depend on the type of gambling you do? Does the bible have any quotes relating to gambling?
I've had Christians tell me the bible says gambling is wrong, citing versus, and I've had Christians tell me there's nothing wrong with it, citing other versus.
So the jury is out on that, like most things Christian.

Beyond that, I don't think there's anything wrong with it, so long as it's done responsibly and doesn't hurt others. If it hurts the one doing it only, I don't much care (it's not my job, nor moral code, to care about what mentally stable adults do to themselves on their own accord).

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Re: Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Post #16

Post by Purple Knight »

Gambling does nothing good for society as a whole. It spends resources transferring resources from stupid and/or addicted people to those legally entitled to run gambling institutions. (I'm not speaking of poker with buddies where the assumption is that no one person has a huge degree of advantage over the others - this I believe qualifies as free fun.)

That said, it's probably immoral to stop people from doing something just because it's bad for them.

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Re: Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Post #17

Post by nobspeople »

[Replying to Purple Knight in post #18]
Gambling does nothing good for society as a whole.
Maybe it's enough to just provide some people some entertainment? Besides, who says everything must/is only worthy if it does something good for society?
It spends resources transferring resources from stupid and/or addicted people to those legally entitled to run gambling institutions.
So long as it's their own resources, I don't care personally. Of course we're all connected in some fashion, but unless this guy next to me uses my money to gamble, it's none of my business. As far as addicted people/personalities....we all have that in ourselves to various degrees (gambling, sugar, porn, cleaning, etc). What point do we draw the line? And who makes that decision?
That said, it's probably immoral to stop people from doing something just because it's bad for them.
I've found morality isn't the same for everyone. Moral or not, if it doesn't effect me....oh well...have fun! :wave:

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Re: Gambling... Right or Wrong?

Post #18

Post by Purple Knight »

nobspeople wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:48 pmSo long as it's their own resources, I don't care personally. Of course we're all connected in some fashion, but unless this guy next to me uses my money to gamble, it's none of my business.
If he gets so addicted to gambling he must beg, and then people won't give it to him so he must rob, and he mugs you, that's definitely your business.

Let's take a world of infinite knowledge just for the sake of argument. We know you'll die in this way.

Arguably there would be a greater wrong in stopping everyone from gambling just to preserve your life, but with infinite knowledge we probably should stop that mugger from gambling.

Personally I think people who have these sorts of problems should lose alcohol and gambling endorsements off their driver's licenses. There is no wrong in this, otherwise we couldn't prevent the under-18 people from doing these things under the assumption that they wouldn't be responsible enough. All drugs legal. Gambling legal. Alcohol legal. Commit a crime because you were intoxicated or wanted gambling money? Well, you're back to being effectively under 18.

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