Tag Archives: gambling

Someone Has to Be Dead Last

11 Apr

I got an unusual email at work: turned out I was dead last in my company’s March Madness contest. Now, not really a fan of college basketball, this was not surprising, but the randomness of this particular set of games is fascinating.

The NCAA Tournament is probably one of the strangest events on the calendar year; last year, the whole COVID thing shut it down, so it seemed extra important to get it back up as one of those signs of normalcy. Every year, I catch maybe one or two of those games, and remember to watch my bracket get busted every weekend. It’s fun, but despite the analysis that goes into seeds, the secretary who pays zero attention to the games is more likely to win, because the randomness of the contest makes it impossible to predict.

This year was particularly strange, because the seeds turned out to be dead wrong. Normally, the selection committee has enough games to watch to get a pretty good idea of who has a stronger team than most . Sure, one or two teams upset the expected rivals, but the last several tournaments, it was safer to “play chalk,” or just pick the higher seeded team.

Not this year… A 16 seed knocked off a 1 seed right away and an 11-seed (UCLA) went to the Final Four! I mean… Abilene Christian? Who saw those guys upsetting so many teams? Since I barely pay attention to college ball, this was one of those strange confluence of experiences. So many games had been cancelled this year due to COVID that the selection committee did NOT have its normal history of games to draw from. Without that history, the seeds were poorly chosen, and everyone’s brackets got busted immediately.

So when I fill out two brackets, one sensible, the other wacky, and both go nowhere… I’m honestly not surprised that I’m in last place. But on the plus side, that means I didn’t have to pay the entrance fee, so… yea?

The randomness of the event is what makes it great, but as I said, I don’t have much skin in the games. Have you followed the games and been surprised? Let me know in the comments below! And if you managed to win some money, why not buy one of my books. However, if you didn’t make $1.99, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. It’s not a bad consolation prize. 🙂

Is Gambling a Sin?

25 Sep

Contrary to popular belief, gambling is not listed explicitly as a sin in the Bible… whichever Bible you use. Not that that’s my favorite sin, but it did occur to me, that it wasn’t a commandment. So where do we get this idea from?

I didn’t mean to get into a Bible study, just textual analysis, because it’s something I’m curious about. The simple answer is it’s a variation on greed. Oh, Greed is one of the seven deadly sins — which is NOT in the Bible, that was Pope Gregory I in the 7th Century. However, if you’re a Christian, Paul gets into the works of the flesh and works of the spirit in Galatians:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 KJV

So by this definition, it’s a revel, and we’ve covered hatred, emulations, and strife. Besides, I’ve rarely seen a poker table without drunkenness and seditions. So it’s pretty sinful and Paul makes sure to add “this isn’t a complete list.” But keeping in the Christian canon, let’s get to the root of the issue:

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

1 Timothy 6: 9-10

Ah! It’s not so much the gambling that’s the problem, it’s the money. This may be why we gamble for chocolate on Hanukkah. Speaking of which, we should try for more Tanakh (Old Testament) quotes:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Exodus 20:17

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Gambling is all about trying to get more than you have. Since the Lord gives you all you need, asking for more is the sin involved. In Islam, this is made very clear:

O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, dedication of stones, and divination by arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handwork. Eschew such abomination, that you may prosper… Satan’s plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer. Will you not then abstain?

Quran 5:90-91

In Buddhism, it seems that it’s not explicitly forbidden, but most teachers will tell you that you it’s discouraged. You are putting up a stake, expending positive karma to gain more, which means you’re gonna pay for it later. I could be talking out my backside on this one, so I’m paraphrasing this article about it.

So in the end, regardless of what you believe, the “sin” in gambling is not the joy of winning or the sadness in losing, it’s the consequences of that action. If you’re doing it for fun, without expectation of winning or concern of losing, then you’re fine. But how often does that happen? That’s how you can have Catholic rectory bingo or card tournaments, because in the end, you might win something, but not enough to endanger your soul.

So like smoking, drinking, or dancing, gambling is something you shouldn’t do unless you’re doing it for the right reasons. Implied sin, not explicit, because it’s so easy to abuse. But what do you think? Am I missing something? Do I not go far enough? Let me know in the comments below!

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