8.10 Gambling

8.10 Gambling

Gambling is prohibited as being a dishonest means of acquiring money at the cost of ordinary people who gamble without realising how heavily the odds are weighted against them.

In the three verses (2:219), (5:90,91) quoted above in section 8.9, we find that gambling or games of chance is grouped together with the intoxicant liquors. One reason for this must surely be because both are addictive. Alcohol destroys clarity of mind; gambling causes the mind to be preoccupied with future winnings (or recouping losses) – always hoping the next time will bring better luck! Most people think that a little ‘flutter’ is good for amusement. They do not realise that for the many who get addicted to it, it causes untold damages. Sadly, the Government promotes gambling because of the large amount of tax revenue. But the people who really win are the promoters who run big businesses.

If we take the National Lottery as an example, and examine its implications, we can see who the winners are, and what damage it is doing to society. The real winners are the people who run the National Lottery, their shareholders and the Government. The Government’s justification is that part of the money is spent on ‘good causes’. But the ‘good causes’ in most cases are projects which are used and enjoyed by the rich, such as the arts, the theatre, sports, national heritage, etc. On the other hand, if we analyse who the contributors are (i.e. those who buy the lottery tickets) we find that they include a very high percentage of people who have difficulty in maintaining their families as it is. Yet they spend a significant amount of the family budget on the Lottery, hoping that the next time will bring them better luck and draw them out of the poor situation in which they find themselves. The pressure to escape the reality of their lives is massive, especially they have images of untold wealth paraded before them – just a lottery ticket away! The unfortunate dupes do not realise that there is actually a far greater probability of getting killed on the road than winning a million pounds on the National Lottery. Thus, in effect, the Government is extracting money from the poor and giving the benefits to the rich in the form of this ‘voluntary tax’.

The full damage to society can only be worked out if a proper survey is done on what proportion of the family budget is spent on the Lottery by people living on the borderline – or close to it – and how it is affecting their families, both materially and mentally. The statistics should include all age ranges, as some of the newspaper reports suggest that children as young as 10 are playing scratch cards.

Note: Financial speculative activities, such as dealing in futures, options and derivatives, have a high degree of similarity with gambling. These, too, can cause a great deal of harm, upheaval and imbalance to the many while rewarding only a handful of people.