Gambling: A Violation of the Quaker Testimonies – Michael Song
The greatest threat from games of chance, raffles, and even the stock market is that they advance materialism. Many participants will desire greater winnings, valuing earthly goods over spiritual gain. This greed violates the Quaker testimony of simplicity. One gambles to win material goods; the more one plays, the deeper their desire becomes to gain material wealth at the expense of a meaningful relationship with Spirit. While gambling, people are reminded not of what they do or don’t have but of what they could have. The prize that they hope to win—money or free items—seems attainable. The fact that gamblers feel as if they are able to win makes them play repeatedly. However, the odds are stacked against them, so they will most likely not win the prize. Casinos themselves are filled with slot machines, conspicuous wealth, alcohol, and sharply dressed individuals, all looking to take someone else’s money. Casinos are indicative of materialistic life, and alongside chance, serve as a lure for materialism.
Gambling also works against integrity and equality because it incentivizes cheating. While gambling appears to be democratic with equal odds, gamblers often use weighted dice, hidden cameras to document opponents’ cards, or other devices to twist games of chance in their favor, thereby precluding the possibility of equality. Friends often define integrity as treating others with respect and honesty, but cheaters do not treat others with honesty.
Moreover, cheating also violates the Quaker testimonies of equality and community. Gamblers value winning prizes over treating their neighbors well. Gambling does little to serve the material or spiritual good of the community. Instead of using financial gain carefully, gamblers are likely to spend winnings on themselves, rather than sharing with their neighbors or contributing to the common good. Even the lottery, which is meant to be properly taxed and distributed to government programs like public education, has been shown to fall short of its goals. When people do win a lottery, their initial thoughts are rarely to give winnings back to the government or public good. Lottery winners are notoriously unhappy, so this good seems to also hurt those who win.
via Friends Journal Gambling: A Violation of the Quaker Testimonies – Michael Song