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Summary: Part 3 in series What Does God Think About . . . This sermon addresses gambling

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WHAT DOES GOD THINK ABOUT

Part 3: Gambling

Roy Chapman was always a sharp businessman, never afraid to take risks. When car sales slumped because of the gas crunch in the 1970’s, he kept his Philadelphia dealership together by shifting from new big cars to used and smaller cars. Now the family owns 7 dealerships in 2 states. When tragedy nearly forced Chapman out of the horse racing games, he hung onto one red chestnut colt named Smarty Jones. So far that horse has won $7.4 million in races and ran for the Triple Crown yesterday. Forget cars. Smarty Jones has given the Chapmans the ride of their lives (AOL Sports, Chapmans Ready for Ride of a Lifetime, Dan Gelston, 6/5/2004). While some may be happy for the Chapmans, what about the other lives that were impacted by the race yesterday. People much like Dave Thomas.

In 1993, Dave moved his family from Florida to Tennessee to escape creditors and legalized gambling. He knew his family had suffered there from his gambling addiction, especially horse racing. He recalled when he moved to Florida he saw signs as they crossed the state line: "Welcome to Florida. Play the Florida Lottery." Thomas, who had already begun to gamble before moving to Florida, began spending $2-$3 a week on lottery tickets. He justified it because of the low cost of the tickets and the idea he could help his family. He dreamed of buying his parents a better house. Soon, however, the few dollars he spent weekly on lottery tickets grew to $50 by playing the daily "Cash 3, Cash 4, or Pick 5" tickets. Then Thomas was introduced to dog racing. He began asking for advances on his salary. In the 10 years his family lived in Florida, they moved 11 times, often in the middle of the night to escape landlords and often after having the utilities turned off.

How did the race yesterday affect people like Dave?

“Play Responsibility” – like “Safe Sex,” “Drink Responsibly,” and Surgeon General warnings – may salve the conscience of those involved in promoting social ills, but the slogan barely touches the gambling industry’s imprint in Florida.

Despite rejecting casino gambling 3 times since 1978, Florida is home to a vigorous gambling industry made up of 31 racetracks, dog tracks, and jai alai frontons; about 26 gambling boats, a state sanctioned lottery, and at least 6 casinos located on Native American reservations throughout the state. (Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Gaming Laws a Mixed Bag, Florida Baptist Witness, 3/13/2003)

Six hundred billion dollars is wagered legally in the United States each year. That’s $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. The amount of illegal wagering is likely several times as great. In 1998, Americans spent more money on legalized gambling than on recorded music, theme parks, video games, spectator sports, and movie tickets combined. (Gambling Impact Study Commission, Final Report. Jan. 28, 2001).

With gambling so prevalent in our country and our state, it is time we stopped to ask, “What does God think about gambling?”


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