Gambling in moderation should be OK

As a teenager I was a member of the Wesley Guild, an offshoot of the Methodist Church for young people.

As a result I had to take two vows never to drink alcohol, and never to gamble. It happened that within a year or two I was diagnosed as having low blood pressure and the doctor recommended that I have a regular drink of either coffee or alcohol, but he also mentioned that at my age coffee would be more suitable.

Having not being a great lover of coffee, and not wanted to become addicted to it as some folks that I knew, I stuck to a cup a day until I could have my first drink of alcohol, and was then able to switch to tea at breakfast. I had no difficulty in practicing moderation as far as alcohol was concerned, a practice that I have maintained to this day.

What I learnt was that everything done to an excess is bad. I have really been attracted to gambling, but know that life itself is a gamble. If I find myself in places where there are the slot machines, known as one arm bandits. I have fun by placing a limit on the amount that I spend each day. I had learnt that neither drinking nor gambling, ipso facto, constitute a sin, the sin lies in going to an excess, and all depends the damage that results, for what is sin but doing harm to oneself or to another. As far as I know there is nothing in the scriptures that forbids mankind to drink or gamble; Christ is said to have turned water into wine, and to this day practising Christians go to communion and have a sip of wine. In the days of Christ, He no doubt would have preached about not gambling to an excess.

The point I am making is that most nations in the world have now discovered that there is nothing wrong with gambling, particularly when done in moderation. Many of the States in America now bolster their finances by allowing gambling, or even instituting it themselves after many years of considering it to be sinful, Even England, our Mother Country, has legalised public lotteries and no harm appears to be done, while the country enjoys the benefits of the funds derived from it.

To be fair, they have for many years allowed gambling on the horses without detriment to the country. Here in Cayman I am aware that a lot of gambling takes place; the numbers game is widely played, and even the churches take part in gambling in their own guise. How often have I walked through George Town and seen a car being raffled by some church, under the guise that it is a gate prize.

People buy each ticket for up to $30. Most of these gamblers who do so have no intention to attend the function but with the hope of winning a brand new vehicle for the relatively small amount that they have gambled. In all of these gambling activities no taxes can be charged as they are illegal, and the paltry amounts obtained come from the fines paid in court by the few who have been charged for playing the numbers game. I am by no means being critical of the powers that be, which are clearly doing their best under difficult circumstances. It is merely my humble opinion that at a time such as this when funds are desperately needed, consideration could be given to legalising all the gambling now taking place on the Island and thereby obtain money that the country needs. I am also of the view that some thought be given to establishing a public lottery, thereby providing the country with even more funds that could be used to build schools and finance hospitals. If it is legal for alcohol to be sold and taxed I see little difference in obtaining taxes from legalised gambling.

Taxes derived from both would be a means of tremendous income boosting for these Islands. The purchase of a few lottery tickets should not be harmful to anyone, especially those who in the habit of obtaining such tickets from Miami, or spend each day hoping that their number comes up that night.

I do believe that should gambling be used to obtain funds, it would be beneficial to the country. Should we however go as far as legalising casinos, they should not be open to local residents. Of course there are people who will gamble to an excess, in the same manner that some people do drink to an excess. However in any case it seems to me that the need for an Alcoholic Anonymous would always outweigh that for a Gamblers’ Anonymous.

Ernest Douglas

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