Gambling and the Common Good

[Demi] Moore's strong flair for taking risks for jumbo-sized payouts showed up clearly when she dared to pose nude and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair....In fact, Moore's whole life story is one any lottery player can relate to: a tale of big risks against long odds and true winner's rewards.

-From a celebrity "profile" of actress Demi Moore in the January 1996 Lotto World: America's Lottery Magazine.

Put aside questions about gambling's potentially negative effects on local economies, families, and society as a whole. From a faith perspective, a more basic reason to oppose gambling will remain: It is a spiritual parasite.

Gambling feeds off of resources, energy, and hope that could be turned toward the common good, and spawns false understandings of what is of true value. The meaning of words like "play," "excitement," "courage," "winning," "risk," and "security" become distorted and empty. Gambling may sometimes bring what seem like concrete benefits to individuals or communities, but an exorbitant price in soul and culture is paid. And, despite gambling industry claims of easy gain and wealth to share, there is evidence that most often the monetary cost is exorbitant as well.

The gambling industry in the United States has grown at an unprecedented rate during the last few years. Some form of gambling is legal in every state except Utah and Hawaii. According to U.S. News and World Report, $482 billion was wagered legally in this country during 1994. State lotteries raise more than $40 billion annually in funds for governments.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1996
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