The Ethics of Gambling

Luke Meadows

Even with the continuing growth of gambling in the United States and around the world, people will debate whether gambling is moral or not. Religious beliefs vary greatly on the issue. I believe that life is inherently filled with risk and gambling is a constant state of the human species, but I may have visited Las Vegas too many times. To be fair, when most people think or speak of gambling, they are referring to gambling money. This takes the form of betting money on outcomes of random chance or against another person’s opinion. The latter can be found in poker or sports wagering.

This type of gambling I believe is perfectly moral, but it is only moral under certain conditions. The following is my ethical belief on gambling, and one that I adhere to. It references no religious beliefs; it is the result of my own thinking on the matter.

The following are three obligations and three conditions that must be met in order to gamble ethically.

The three obligations that come before gambling

1. Personal and family obligations must be taken care of
You can’t take extra money for yourself and not provide for your spouse and children’s welfare; this is obvious. But this also includes entertainment, you need to spend fun time with your children as well. Those who have no children and are not married, of course, have fewer obligations, but there are two that must be fulfilled.

2. Obligations to your country must be taken care of
There are many things that we have to do as an obligation to our country, but for most of us, the biggest example is taxes. If you owe taxes, you need to pay them before you think about gambling.

3. Obligations to your community must be taken care of
This can include a variety of things, and is dependent upon your personal beliefs. Your church is one example. Charitable organizations are another. Some of what you do for your community may be in the form of monetary donations, or perhaps you do some volunteer work. Everyone is a part of the community they live in, and you should take an active role in it.

When the above obligations are satisfied, it is ethical to gamble under the following three conditions.

1. The money must be earned and done so legally.
The money you gamble cannot be borrowed nor can the money be a gift. Only the fruit of your labor should be used for gambling. When the money is earned, it is less likely to be thrown away quickly. As the old saying goes, “easy come, easy go.” Also, if someone gave you money as a gift, unless they specifically tell you it is all right to use it for gambling, it would be unethical to do so. The gift giver most likely expects you to buy a gift for yourself.

2. The gambling is legal
There are many opportunities to gamble illegally everywhere in the world, including the United States, but you should only engage in legal gambling. When you are engaging in illegal gambling, you are helping the criminal element. Legal gambling is a business, and you are supporting people’s employment.

3. You must enjoy the experience
The third and not the least important, condition in ethical gambling is that you must enjoy the experience. This would seem obvious, but there are many people who are miserable during and after they have gambled. Sometimes a man or woman can win a little money, but still not enjoying the gambling experience. If you find yourself not enjoying yourself, then you need to stop immediately. There are plenty of other things you can do with your hard-earned money.

About The Author
A long-time Southern California resident, Luke Meadows has been traveling to Las Vegas on the weekends and taking most of his vacations in Las Vegas for over 30 years. An engineer by trade, his methodical approach to problem solving has made him a successful gambler in casinos up and down the Strip as well as throughout the rest of Las Vegas.

Mr. Meadows is the author of the book “ Stealth Betting Systems for Winning at Casinos,” published by Teela Books

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