What The World's Great Religions Say About Gambling - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

What The World’s Great Religions Say About Gambling

Most of us see nothing wrong with playing Lotto or placing a few bets if it is done occasionally. This is confirmed by statistics – according to the CBOS survey, about 50% of Poles participate in gambling. But what do the world’s great religions say about it?  

Based on the discoveries of archaeologists and historical accounts, it is known that gambling has existed since ancient times. The oldest dice were found in excavations in Mesopotamia, 4000 B.C. Babylonian soldiers bet on horse racing, evidence of gambling can be found in hieroglyphs on the Pyramid of Cheops. Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius, and Neron played dice. The historical capital of gambling is Monte Carlo, where the first casino was opened in 1862. Nowadays, craps are not really played anymore. Cards, slot machines, lotteries or betting are much more popular. Just have a look at the website onlinekasyna.net, where you can find a list of Polish online casinos, and you will see what games of chance are currently preferred. However, can devoted followers of particular religions participate in them without any concerns?

Gambling according to Catholic doctrine, Islam and other religions

The Catholic Church has not officially issued any separate document on gambling, but in principle condemns it, because it sees a high risk of addiction. Some people tend to compare gambling to a snowball effect. As the snowball rolls down the hill, it will become larger and roll faster, making it harder to control. Metaphorically, a snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (more serious), and also perhaps potentially dangerous or disastrous. A man who is gambling-addicted focuses their whole attention on this particular activity. Work doesn’t count, the family doesn’t count, even money doesn’t count. Gambler cuts themselves off from their family, doesn’t care about their development. Just like alcohol, drugs or sex, gambling has damaging effects, it makes the whole person sick – said in an interview with the portal deon.pl ethicist and Jesuit Artur Filipowicz. It is also worth recalling the “Youcat” catechism for young people, prepared on the occasion of World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. It states that „Betting and gambling are immoral and dangerous when the gambler risks his livelihood. It becomes even worse if he risks the livelihood of other people, especially of those who are entrusted to his care.”

Gambling among Muslims is strictly forbidden, and the basis of these prohibitions are some so-called hadith, which Muslims believe to be a record of the words and actions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and verses of the Quran. Muslim scholars interpret them in such a way that it is even forbidden to play on the stock market, which is a powerful branch of the economy in Western civilizations, not considered gambling, but business.  Among the followers of Islam there is a widespread opinion that gambling hinders the fulfillment of religious duties, and the people who devote themselves to it are untrustworthy. In some countries gambling is even subject to high penalties!

Buddhism also considers it undignified and inappropriate to gamble. According to the Buddha’s teachings, a gambling addict is abandoned by his/her friends, unsuitable for marriage, profligate. Gambling leads to moral decay. Judaism, just like the Catholic religion, has no specific records concerning gambling in its holy books. It is therefore assumed that it is acceptable – as a form of entertainment – to take part in gambling on an occasional and reasonable basis. Pathological gambling, which is an addiction leading to the loss of property or the breakdown of family ties, is incompatible with Judaism.

As you can see, the world’s great religions are very cautious about gambling, even as widespread as cards and betting. Moderation, common sense, and responsibility are recommended – so as not to get addicted.


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