Is gambling on the increase?
Such a question is not easy to answer. There are so many newfangled stunts which are designed to catch our attention by a something for nothing appeal, that we are inclined to answer in the affirmative. But why be cock-sure about it? Our memories of by-gone days are very easily dimmed by the process of constantly changing point of view, which we all experience. The things which were very important to us as individuals say twenty years ago are scarcely recognized today. Only those who are in close touch with the younger generation can hope to retain a vestige of the viewpoint of youth, and then only with effort. So we forget.
Then we happen to go on an excursion steamer and idly watch twelve year old kids hit the “jack pot” on a slot machine, thrill to the sudden accumulation of a handful of nickles, and stick to the delusion until the machine claims their last cent. First reactions to such a spectacle were amazement that mere children should be exposed to such temptations, and that the kids spent a large portion of their time around these machines during a trip on a boat.
But second thoughts are sometimes best, at least for men who cannot rely with confidence on intuition. And eventually the thought came that it was a good thing that these youngsters lost their last cent, for how else could they learn the cussedness of some human critters, and the folly of trusting to luck. Certainly no preachment of elders could teach them this. And what a silly notion it is that children should be shielded from evils, rather than taught to meet them with courage. Good morals are predicated not on the absence of sin, but on overcoming it.
Now many will dispute our calling gambling a sin. Alright, have it your own way. But we talked with a young fellow who was not even lucky enough to win and then lose. He simply lost his fifteen cents to the machine. And he was thinking the thing over seriously. He asked me who got his money. Of course I didn’t know, but the boy deserved an answer, and I guessed. Perhaps ten cents went towards a jack-pot for a future lucky player, and a nickle stayed in the machine. Of this nickle, possibly one cent could be properly charged to depreciation of the equipment, and another cent might be considered as a reward to the owner of the machine for providing some amusement; while the other three cents were simply unearned “gravy”. Well, never mind about that nickle; how about the remaining dime of the investment? That’s easy, you simply donated that to some other individual, without having a thing to show for it. However, don’t feel bad about it, for if you had won the jack-pot, you would have appropriated several fellow’s dimes and given them nothing in return.
From a purely ethical standpoint, gambling is not so much immoral as unmoral. Stealing is immoral, for it involves harm to a neighbor without his consent. Gambling produces similar results with the consent of the victim. It is a mechanistic device, devised by pleasure seeking humanity to relieve them of responsibilities if they harm their neighbors. Thus, gambling contracts are legally void, because of the lack of mutual consideration.
If you are one who feels fully compensated for your losses in a game of penny-ante through having enjoyed a swell evening with friends, who can accuse you of immorality? But he who robs an unknown neighbor under the cloak of a mechanism is despicable; he who looses is a fool; and he who wastes his time falling for something for nothing publicity stunts is merely silly.
Yet I know a very lovely church woman who cannot resist the clever take-a-chance devices at an amusement park. And far be it from me to say she gambled, for she got more kick than sixteen mules if she won a gaudy doll. She was compensated.
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