Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own. Luke 12:15
For the next several days we will share parts of a message delivered to congregations I have served regarding the North Carolina and Florida Education Lottery. These messages were in opposition to the state sponsoring gambling as a means of funding the school systems of our state.
During the campaign for governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, who eventually won the post, was pro-lottery. In his first State of the State address, here is what he told the assembled media and politicians…
Now I am not saying a lottery for education is the only solution, it's just one solution. If anyone has a better idea...if anyone has another way to find the $400 - $500 million for education, I am open to it. But you can't just say 'no' we're against a lottery - finish the sentence - tell me what you're for, because next year 100,000 five-year olds will show up at the schoolhouse door, and they deserve more than an overcrowded classroom and an overworked teacher."
I am glad to answer the governor’s question – finish his sentence: I’m for raising children without teaching them that gambling is the high ethical road! We don’t need a lottery educating our children – we need responsible fiscal management and ethical leaders to set the example.
When those 100,000 five-year olds show up at the schoolhouse door they deserve the best – they don’t deserve a society filled with gambling and the inevitable associated ills it will bring, crime, more prisons and gambling addictions. Those children don’t deserve to grow up and pay for the “therapy” 3% of their neighbors will need to get off their gambling addiction!
If more money is needed for education, Mike, North Carolinians will pay the taxes – an honorable way of funding the needed salaries and supplies for educating our children. We don’t need another Las Vegas in this beautiful state!
I would like to share with you the reasons why I will not participate in the lottery, or any other form of gambling....
The evidence for this is in experience itself. Paydays are enlightening. If you walk into a convenience store in any state with a lottery, you will see lines of folks waiting to buy a lottery ticket (or 20)! Are these folks winning? No...they're exercising their constitutional right to throw away whatever portion of their paycheck they care to!
If gambling is not addictive, why would millions of consistent "non-winners" continue to play against incredible odds? The National Council on Compulsive Gambling has stated that there are approximately 8 million compulsive gamblers in the United States alone. On average, when a compulsive gambler finally seeks help for his addiction he is in debt for over $80,000.
The evidence suggests strongly that the addiction is at least as strong as alcohol or drugs. A natural question that follows is: How long does it take to get hooked on gambling? If crack cocaine is an example...one experience could do it.
In 1990 one man spent $46,000 for a weekly drawing in the Florida lottery.
In 1990, Americans placed legal bets of over $286 billion dollars. That's equivalent to 5 percent of the Gross National Product. That's one-third more than the (then) total amount spent on elementary and secondary education in this country. It is nearly four times the amount (then) given to religious institutions.
What's the allure, the draw? The promise of great wealth.
Gambling is addictive – we already have enough opportunities for that!