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Gambling

SolEX01

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Demetrios G. said:
I have seen what abusive drinking can do. Does that mean that no one should drink alcohol because someone who is spiritually weak can fall victim to it. There is always an underline problem when people abuse anything. Shouldn't we deal with that problem rather then ban the substance of abuse. That's like blaming the pen for a spelling error.
I have heard stories of what abusive gambling can do to people or what abusive relationships can do to people.

Drinking, Gambling and abusive relationships are just 3 examples of ... ... ... ta da, Passions.  Thankfully, we can put our passions on the Cross of Christ as we pray and fast to "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."  :)
 

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SolEX01 said:
Demetrios G. said:
If someone is spiritually in order than it doesn't matter.
With your ideology we should replace communion with grape juice because the alcoholics will be offended.
What are we to make of Christ's garments being divided among the Roman soldiers by casting lots, Matthew 27:35?

So, it is OK to cast lots over a car just to benefit a Church founded by the sacrifice Christ made on the Cross?
You must have missed Acts 1:23to26  ;)
 

SolEX01

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Demetrios G. said:
You must have missed Acts 1:23to26  ;)
There is a difference between using lots to discern the will of God and using lots as a means of surrendering all authority to random chance (paraphrasing comments from Orthodox Study Bible for Acts 1:23-26).

When a Church uses a raffle to raise money, they surrender all authority to random chance.  :)



 

Jibrail Almuhajir

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Demetrios G. said:
I have seen what abusive drinking can do. Does that mean that no one should drink alcohol because someone who is spiritually weak can fall victim to it. There is always an underline problem when people abuse anything. Shouldn't we deal with that problem rather then ban the substance of abuse. That's like blaming the pen for a spelling error.
Brother, I'm not trying to ban anything.  If the Church has already banned something, it's banned.  And I'm not saying that it is banned; I simply said I've seen enough input here (and elsewhere) that has satisfied me on gambling.  If the Church really has banned gambling, and it looks to me that it probably has, then why fight it?  But if you're going to gamble, you're going to gamble regardless of who says what.  Why reason around the Church's wisdom?  BTW, I liked your pen/spelling error analogy. :)
 

Tzimis

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SolEX01 said:
Demetrios G. said:
You must have missed Acts 1:23to26  ;)
There is a difference between using lots to discern the will of God and using lots as a means of surrendering all authority to random chance (paraphrasing comments from Orthodox Study Bible for Acts 1:23-26).
I think those comments need some work.

What is a sin for one man may not be for another. Not everything is that cut and dry.
 

SolEX01

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Demetrios G. said:
What is a sin for one man may not be for another. Not everything is that cut and dry.
Is that written in the Bible, Holy Tradition, Holy Fathers, etc.?
 

Tzimis

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SolEX01 said:
There is a difference between using lots to discern the will of God and using lots as a means of surrendering all authority to random chance (paraphrasing comments from Orthodox Study Bible for Acts 1:23-26).

When a Church uses a raffle to raise money, they surrender all authority to random chance.   :)
I think those paraphrasing comments need some work.

What is a sin for one man may not be for another. Not everything is that cut and dry.
 

SolEX01

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GabrieltheCelt said:
BTW, I liked your pen/spelling error analogy. :)
Or blaming the hands when one loses at dice, horses, slot machines or even raffle tickets....  :D
Or blaming the feet when one loses in a street drag race.  :D
 

PeterTheAleut

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Demetrios G. said:
If someone is spiritually in order than it doesn't matter.
With your ideology we should replace communion with grape juice because the alcoholics will be offended.
Who said anything about offending someone?  Please don't confuse this discussion by bringing in totally inapplicable analogies.

   There are people who are stock brokers and gamble with money everyday. Would the church deny a donation because of it? Or there are people that sell products for a 200% profit and make donations. Will the Church deny the money because someone could have went to Walmart and paid half the price?
And just what does this have to do with the church-sponsored gambling of a raffle?

Have you ever given to a pan handler on a street corner even though he isn't Orthodox? Giving is giving regardless of whether it's a church. It is about your own salvation just as much as it is about the cause.
But we're not talking about giving.  A raffle is not giving just because the parish benefits.  Again, God established the tithe to be the base model for giving to the Church; if you can't give a tithe off the top of your income, then you have no business gambling that money on a raffle ticket.

Everybody knows the money is going to the Church. Raffles simulate giving.
So a positive end makes good an otherwise evil means?  That's essentially what you're arguing.
 

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SolEX01 said:
Demetrios G. said:
What is a sin for one man may not be for another. Not everything is that cut and dry.
Is that written in the Bible, Holy Tradition, Holy Fathers, etc.?
What does the study bible state about 1 John 5:17?
 

SolEX01

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Demetrios G. said:
What does the study bible state about 1 John 5:17?
Nothing specifically; However, Look at the other verses: 14-17 and 18-21

1 John 5:21 says:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen 

Where an idol is either a false god or things that turn us away from God - reference to Colossians 3:5.

 

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I gamble a stamp whenever I send in my little card to the Publishers clearing house ;)

http://www.pch.com/
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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I gamble when I get in the car that I won't die on the way to work.
I gamble when I drop my daughter off at daycare that she won't be punched by the boy in her class.
I gamble when I order sushi that the chef made it with enough skill that I won't get sick.

Eliminating all forms of chance and risk-taking from our lives is just silly. Why is such risk-taking okay under most circumstances, but not when money is involved? Is it really so different?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
But we're not talking about giving.  A raffle is not giving just because the parish benefits.
Both parties benefit. Just like when you buy a candle at church instead of bringing one from home. ;)
 

Jibrail Almuhajir

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
Why is such risk-taking okay under most circumstances, but not when money is involved? Is it really so different?
Maybe.  I think we could boil it down to one word; stewardship.  I believe our money isn't really ours but God's- entrusted to us- for our needs.  We need to eat, have shelter, clothe ourselves, give 10% of it back, and help the sick, widows, elderly, and poor.  But because of our fallen nature, we also have wants.  That is not to say, though, that all wants are sinful.  But when we look at gambling in the form of giving a small sum in the hopes of gaining a larger sum, it's a good idea to first ask ourselves some questions.  If I lose this money, will I be able to fulfill my obligations as a Christian, a husband and father, etc...  What type of establishment will I visit to go gambling?  Is it hostile to the Christian life?  Are there forms of entertainment there that would endanger me?  Hurt my wife or husband or children?  And so on and so forth.

In Christ,
Gabriel

 
 

SolEX01

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
Eliminating all forms of chance and risk-taking from our lives is just silly. Why is such risk-taking okay under most circumstances, but not when money is involved? Is it really so different?
There is legitimate risk-taking (e.g. all 3 examples you cited) and there is temptation.

The Church is offering a temptation (e.g. luxury car, trip to Greece, cash) in exchange for a donation.

If Satan tempted Christ 3 times in the Desert, who is the Church to offer temptations like luxury cars?

Also note that at the 3 Churches I mentioned, most of the people who purchase raffle tickets for cars are already well-off.  Not many people from outside the Church purchase raffle tickets.  Some buy more than 1 - like 2, 3, 5....
 

ozgeorge

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I've started a book if anyone wants to have a flutter.
Here are the odds:

This thread will remain unresolved after 15 pages:                2:1

This thread will remain unresolved after 130 pages:                20:1

This thread will be resolved by the end of this current page:    15000:1
 

Jibrail Almuhajir

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ozgeorge said:
I've started a book if anyone wants to have a flutter.
Here are the odds:

This thread will remain unresolved after 15 pages:                 2:1

This thread will remain unresolved after 130 pages:                20:1

This thread will be resolved by the end of this current page:    15000:1
I you could start a book on just about every thread on this site (save for maybe the prayer threads).  It's good to have these discussion though; I always learn viewpoints I hadn't considered. :)
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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GabrieltheCelt said:
ytterbiumanalyst said:
Why is such risk-taking okay under most circumstances, but not when money is involved? Is it really so different?
Maybe.  I think we could boil it down to one word; stewardship.  I believe our money isn't really ours but God's- entrusted to us- for our needs.
I believe this as well. Yet I also believe that our lives are not our own, but they belong to God. So again, why is gambling acceptable when money is not involved, and unacceptable when it is?t
 

ozgeorge

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GabrieltheCelt said:
It's good to have these discussion though; I always learn viewpoints I hadn't considered. :)
I agree. I received a book of raffle tickets from a Rural Orthodox Parish to raise money for the Parish as well as the Cancer Care Unit of their local hospital. I've been selling the tickets without so much as a thought about the issues until this thread. That's what I enjoy most about OCnet- seeing other points of view.
 

ozgeorge

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
So again, why is gambling acceptable when money is not involved, and unacceptable when it is?
Well, gambling for money is addictive as well as being non-essential to our life. While we often need to take reasonable risks (like crossing the road etc.), the risk management strategies in place (zebra crossings, traffic lights, speed zones, teaching kids the traffic drill etc) actually reduce the risk. Statistically, gambling games (such as lottery, poker machines etc.) are very high risk. For example, the odds of winning a prize in the average lottery range from 8-55 million to one. However, this risk taking behaviour is addictive for many, and has ruined lives and families.
Could it also have something to do with the old concept of usury? The problem with usury was that it was a means for the rich to get richer by using money to make money.
 

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ozgeorge said:
ytterbiumanalyst said:
So again, why is gambling acceptable when money is not involved, and unacceptable when it is?
Well, gambling for money is addictive as well as being non-essential to our life. While we often need to take reasonable risks (like crossing the road etc.), the risk management strategies in place (zebra crossings, traffic lights, speed zones, teaching kids the traffic drill etc) actually reduce the risk. Statistically, gambling games (such as lottery, poker machines etc.) are very high risk. For example, the odds of winning a prize in the average lottery range from 8-55 million to one. However, this risk taking behaviour is addictive for many, and has ruined lives and families.
Could it also have something to do with the old concept of usury? The problem with usury was that it was a means for the rich to get richer by using money to make money.
I'm glad that you chimed in George. What if our chances are better than 8-55 million to one. I know for a fact that casino Slot machines are typically programmed to pay out as winnings 82–98% of the money that is wagered by players. Ill stick to my guns and say that gambling addictions along with other addictions are spiritual problems and that any activity can become sinful depending on our response. 
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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ozgeorge said:
ytterbiumanalyst said:
So again, why is gambling acceptable when money is not involved, and unacceptable when it is?
Well, gambling for money is addictive as well as being non-essential to our life. While we often need to take reasonable risks (like crossing the road etc.), the risk management strategies in place (zebra crossings, traffic lights, speed zones, teaching kids the traffic drill etc) actually reduce the risk. Statistically, gambling games (such as lottery, poker machines etc.) are very high risk. For example, the odds of winning a prize in the average lottery range from 8-55 million to one. However, this risk taking behaviour is addictive for many, and has ruined lives and families.
Could it also have something to do with the old concept of usury? The problem with usury was that it was a means for the rich to get richer by using money to make money.
Thank you, George. This makes sense. Indeed, the psychologist B.F. Skinner postulated that people will engage in activities with exceedingly low odds of success if there is a random interval of reward. Gambling institutions use this principle in the creation of such games as slot machines. Since people do not know whether they will win with the next pull, they do so in the hopes of winning despite all odds.

So then, could we say that it is the encouragement of exceedingly risky behaviour through the promise of personal gain that is sinful?
 

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
Thank you, George. This makes sense. Indeed, the psychologist B.F. Skinner postulated that people will engage in activities with exceedingly low odds of success if there is a random interval of reward. Gambling institutions use this principle in the creation of such games as slot machines. Since people do not know whether they will win with the next pull, they do so in the hopes of winning despite all odds.

So then, could we say that it is the encouragement of exceedingly risky behaviour through the promise of personal gain that is sinful?
I think this may be closer to the truth of the matter than anything I've seen on this thread thus far.  By some of the definitions of gambling posited above, I suppose even investing in the stock market would be considered gambling.  The recent market crash notwithstanding, investment in stocks is generally seen as a relatively low risk (much lower risk than casino gambling) way to save money for retirement and may therefore be considered wise stewardship of one's resources.  I suppose this is okay because the rate of return is generally good over the long term of many years, while the risk of loss, while there, is not prohibitive.  Not at all like blowing a lot of many on games where the chance of big returns is extremely slim.
 

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Demetrios G. said:
What if our chances are better than 8-55 million to one. I know for a fact that casino Slot machines are typically programmed to pay out as winnings 82–98% of the money that is wagered by players.
Poker machine winnings are paid in relatively small amounts of credits which, most often, are wagered again. It doesn't matter how much they "pay in winnings" if two credits on a 10 cent machine constitutes a "winning". The probability of winning a major cash prize is the issue.
Let's say the major cash prize on a slot machine is won when five cherries come up. If you are playing one line on the slot machine, you need to press the button 6.7 million times to have a 50% chance of getting 5 cherries.
 

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ozgeorge said:
need to press the button 6.7 million times to have a 50% chance of getting 5 cherries.
And to give you an idea of how staggeringly unlikely those odds are, think about this:
One million days have not passed since the day Christ was born. Over seven more centuries need to pass before its one million days AD. Now multiply that by 6.7 and you have the year 18,356 AD. And that's only to have a 50% chance of winning!
 

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Well, gambling for money is addictive as well as being non-essential to our life.
Hold on a moment.

Saying one could become addicted to gambling is not a moral argument against it. One could become addicted to alcohol, but that is not a moral argument against having a glass of wine.

Most things in life are non-essential but that doesn't in and of itself make them immoral. So, that gambling is non-essential is not a moral argument against it, either.

The one (perhaps) moral argument I have heard against gambling is that one is profiting by another's loss. But then no one forces you to play. If you play and don't understand the game then losing is your fault for not being prepared, not the fault of the guy who wins your money. So I'm not even sure that this argument works either.

I don't mean to sound cruel or worldly here but I take moral arguments seriously and these just don't cut it.

Other arguments?




 

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ozgeorge said:
Demetrios G. said:
What if our chances are better than 8-55 million to one. I know for a fact that casino Slot machines are typically programmed to pay out as winnings 82–98% of the money that is wagered by players.
Poker machine winnings are paid in relatively small amounts of credits which, most often, are wagered again. It doesn't matter how much they "pay in winnings" if two credits on a 10 cent machine constitutes a "winning". The probability of winning a major cash prize is the issue.
Let's say the major cash prize on a slot machine is won when five cherries come up. If you are playing one line on the slot machine, you need to press the button 6.7 million times to have a 50% chance of getting 5 cherries.
Suppose that a certain slot machine costs $1 per spin. It can be calculated that over a sufficiently long period, such as 1,000,000 spins, that the machine will return an average of $950,000 to its players, who have inserted $1,000,000 during that time. The problem is most people don't gamble with a million dollars in there pocket. Even if they did theoretically they are still a losers. Unless the machine is on an interval of successive losses. You may anti up $1 and hit the jack pot. :D Facts and figures aren't my specialty. Where's Jimmy the Greek when you need him?
 

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Could it also have something to do with the old concept of usury? The problem with usury was that it was a means for the rich to get richer by using money to make money.
Okay, thanks brother ozgeorge.

Isn't usury is just a fancy word for interest? For example, when I put my money in the bank and they pay me 2% a year on it, that's usury, right?  I'd like to have a separate thread on usury but I'm not sure what it has to do with gambling. If "money making money" is immoral then so are savings accounts, the stock market, and any other investment vehicles where our money "works" for us.

Now of course we can say that we just don't like gambling and we would prefer that people do not gamble, which is fine, but let's acknowledge that our mere dislike of gambling is not a moral argument. And none of the arguments offered so far seem satisfactory.

Grace to all

P.S. I've started a thread on this on my blog as well: Blog link removed in accordance with OC.net policy.

You can't link to a blog in your post unless you're using a specific blog post as a reference.
~Veniamin, Free-for-All Moderator
 

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tpkatsa said:
Could it also have something to do with the old concept of usury? The problem with usury was that it was a means for the rich to get richer by using money to make money.
Okay, thanks brother ozgeorge.

Isn't usury is just a fancy word for interest?
It isn't just interest, but includes things like charging a fee for the use or handling of money. For example, in the Gospel, Christ drove out the "money changers" from the Temple. These guys were the equivalent of our "Bureau de change" or "Exchange". They would exchange the Temple pilgrim's coinage of the Roman Empire (on the pretext that it was idolatrous and therefore unfit to be used in the Temple Treasury) for Jewish coinage at a fee, and therefore would also be considered usurers.

tpkatsa said:
If "money making money" is immoral then so are savings accounts, the stock market, and any other investment vehicles where our money "works" for us.
Well, they are in fact all forms of usury.
Gambling may also be a form of usury because a fee is charged for the chance (however slight) of increasing one's money.
 

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tpkatsa said:
Now of course we can say that we just don't like gambling and we would prefer that people do not gamble, which is fine, but let's acknowledge that our mere dislike of gambling is not a moral argument. And none of the arguments offered so far seem satisfactory.
Technically gambling is wrong because it is based on selfishness. Ask yourself a silly little question. Why do I need 10 million dollars? If you say that you need it to buy something for yourself than you have put yourself before others. Make no mistake, we are better off not gambling at all.
 

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Why do I need 10 million dollars?
I don't. But then we don't need a lot of things (back to the "non-essentials" argument).

There is nothing about 10 million dollars which makes it immoral. It's what I do with it.

If I won $10 million (say after taxes), I would like to:

(1) give $2 million to our OC church so they could pay off the building loan establish a fund for evangelistic work.
(2) keep $1 million to pay off my house and put the rest into the bank for retirement.
(3) buy my sister and her kids a nice home of their own to live in.
(4) split the rest (around $6 million) in gifts to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Hard to argue that I'm not doing an awful lot of good with that $10 million.
 

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Demetrios G. said:
Technically gambling is wrong because it is based on selfishness. Ask yourself a silly little question. Why do I need 10 million dollars? If you say that you need it to buy something for yourself than you have put yourself before others. Make no mistake, we are better off not gambling at all.
And yet on this very same thread you justified a form of gambling known as the raffle.  If gambling is wrong and we are better off not gambling at all, and if a raffle is gambling, then how do you justify a raffle?  Your logic strikes me as very inconsistent.
 

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Some other opinions:

1 quote from here:
http://www.goarch.org/print/en/ourfaith/article7125.asp
[quote author="Fr. George Nicozisin"]
The "false messiahs and false prophets" of today are alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, pornography, gambling, homosexual experimentation, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, and morally irresponsible abortion.[/quote]

How about: "Using Wealth for the Benefit of Others"
http://www.goarch.org/en/resources/sermons/sermons_detail.asp?id=8

An excerpt:"For instance, we see one of our greatest cities, New York, as the financial capital of the world. Here we find Wall Street; some of the world's largest multi-national companies; a city budget in the tens of billions, normal size homes worth a quarter of a million dollars and up, billions spent on marketing through media; some of the world's greatest hotels. We also find LOTTO almost continually hovering in the tens of millions. Several of these characteristics are to be found across America as a whole where we also discover some of world's largest gambling casinos, contracts for athletes that also run into the millions per year, and some of the most magnificent vacation resort areas that money can obtain. We could go on indefinitely. And yet in the midst of all of this, we find abject poverty: people unable to pay for their room and board; families having little to eat; we find children roaming the streets without supervision and a growing welfare society with unemployment, higher crime and poor education for our young.
Quite often, those of us who are affluent fail to see the needs of those who are impoverished in one way or another, whether physically, morally or spiritually."

2 Articles from this collection of sermons on Stewardship:
http://www.goarch.org/en/archdiocese/departments/stewardship/PDF/pserm-v.pdf+gambling&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us&ie=UTF-8

[quote author="Rev. Fr. William S. Chiganos"]
Every organization, every institution, every government, every family and every person
needs funding. There are many ways to fund a project. All of us, I think, have at one time or
another bought cookies and candy, some of us have bought pencils and peanuts, various things to
help people raise money. Gambling has also been used. It is being used in some of our parishes and
is a subject of controversy.
The government and many of our Greek Orthodox Parishes have another method, and that
is by imposing taxes. But these are not God's way. His way is one of love-giving.[/quote]

[quote author="Rev. Fr. Nicholas C. Manikas"]"Everyone must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a
cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7) According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, my dear friends, the median
family income in the United States in 1981 was $22,388. This is a remarkable figure far beyond the income
levels of all the other countries in the world. What do we do with this fabulous income in the United States? In
any one year Americans spend 5 billion dollars for tobacco, 10 billion dollars for alcoholic beverages, and 21
billion dollars for gambling. For our Churches in America, all our churches of all
denominations, only
about 2-
1/2 billion dollars. We spend the same amount for hairdos and haircuts, for soft drinks, and for going to the
movies. It's not a story to be proud of. To try to make our faces and our hair pretty we spend as much as we
do to support our churches[/quote]

Come Receive the Light: interview with Fr. Luke Veronis re:Gambling.
http://www.myocn.net/index.php/CRTL-Archives/CRTL-Gambling.html
And the Study guide:
http://www.myocn.net/images/CRTLStudyGuide08-06-06.pdf
 

Tzimis

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PeterTheAleut said:
  Your logic strikes me as very inconsistent.
It should. I scar myself sometimes. I buy raffles for the same reason I buy the whole box of chocolates from my child's Greek school. It proves a point that money really doesn't matter.
 

Fr. George

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cleveland said:
Come Receive the Light: interview with Fr. Luke Veronis re:Gambling.
http://www.myocn.net/index.php/CRTL-Archives/CRTL-Gambling.html
An interesting point he makes in the conversation: gambling opposes the Christian ideal of love, for it is focused on capitalizing on the failures of others; one's winnings in gambling come from the (often very heavy) losses of the other players.  It is inherently self-centered, and in a way parasitic.

What I find truly disgusting is when gambling is dressed up as charity; in Ohio, the net proceeds of the lottery are put into the Public Education Fund (benefiting public schools - primary, secondary, and tertiary).  But it's still gambling!  The schools would benefit more if people put their money directly into a School's Education Fund; instead, when they give a dollar to the Lotto, maybe $0.25 ends up in the school's hands.
 
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