Saturday, April 29, 2006

I forage on Saturday mornings at estate and garage sales. For the past few weeks, the sales were rotten so my Garage Sale Buddy and I quit early to go to Big Buffet Breakfasts at one of the re-opened Casinos.

Eleven years ago, our poor area welcomed dockside gambling. Dockside means that the casinos perched on barges on our Coastline with their hotels on land nearby.

Overnight, people got jobs, health care and benefits. Auxiliary businesses flourished. Things got better.

What didn't get better at the beginning and what isn't better now is the White Elephant We Don't Discuss.

MawMaw and PawPaw flooded into the casinos to spend the day playing slots, black jack and etc. Young people got good-paying jobs without needing an education. People who can't control gambling lost homes, families and themselves. People bragged about winnings, didn't mention losses. No one remembers as they gamble that the House always wins.

Presbyterians are clear about why gambling isn't good for people. You can look through the papers offered on the PCUSA website about gambling.

Many casino workers belong to churches. The casino jobs produce income that may end up in offering plates. Some congregations accommodate the 24/7 work schedules of casino workers by offering services on Saturdays or during the weeks. Other churches remain stuck with a 11 am. Sunday morning service only.

What we enlightened Reformed Christians do not discuss is that gambling is an activity that presupposes that the work of one's hands, ie. money earned, is of such little value that "playing" with it is entertainment. Gambling is marketed as a "family destination" or "gaming" as though the slot machines and roulette wheels are a great thing that our children can aspire to do as adults.


I suppose that life without gambling in some form is not possible today. We gamble with insurance, the financial markets and more. We take chances everyday and perhaps gambling is a controlled way of handling our anxiety about all the things we cannot control.


It's just durn tacky to make a social occasion out of going to a casino and gambling. From the garishly patterned carpets to the abysmal interior design of the buildings, the entire enterprise reeks of tacky. Can we not find another form of entertainment that builds community and contributes to our well-being?


St. Casserole


cheesehead said...

Some really good thoughts here. I was a final candidate for a church that was located near a famous horse racing track. On my neutral pulpit weekend, as we were driving past the very large grounds of said track, I asked the elder who was driving, "What is the church's response to the problem of gambling addiction? Does any church around here sponsor GA groups?"

The answer: "It's never come up."


Quotidian Grace said...

I couldn't agree more.

The spread of legalized gambling is a real problem. It nauseates me when politicians try to convince us to vote for referendums allowing it claiming that "it's for the children."

It's not for the children -- it's the gambling industry that prospers. And it causes more problems than it solves.

I find casinos drab, sad and tacky places.

nightwoodkitty said...

In NC we have just begun a state-run lottery. We gave in because VA and SC already had lotteries. (Note: also the reason NC seceeded from the Union in 1861 - didn't want to be overrun by the other states, even though the war was not in the interest of most North Carolinians.)

In a matter of days, we had a corruption scandal related to the passing of the lottery legislation. We have a long history of good, clean government. This is at risk now with the lottery.

I don't think that investing has to be gambling, but I have heard this said.

I cannot stand to walk in to a casino.