October 25, 1989
A few years ago, Atlantic City in the United States legalized certain gambling facilities. In came game tables, slot machines and a variety of games of chance. Since that time, according to a radio news report, the crime rate has risen to the highest of any city in that state. Of course, the police force has more than doubled.
From the crimes committed, it would appear that the casinos, or at least the big money associated with games of chance, attract more than card sharks and gambling addicts. It’s also obvious that not everyone makes money at the tables. The welfare rolls have grown rapidly. Social services, using tax dollars, take care of those who came to win and found out it didn’t happen that way.
A few other interesting notes about Atlantic City, again according to my source: thirty-three million people visit this fairly good-sized city every year but (are you ready for this?) there are no car washes, no theaters, and only one grocery store. (Can you imagine that in smaller Fort Saskatchewan?) While those figures may be hard to believe, even if you cut them to half the visitors and twice the services, they still would be appalling statistics. No wonder the population has dropped 20%. The line-ups for a carton of milk would send most of us looking for another place to live!
What happened to Atlantic City?
Certainly some will blame their situation on factors other than the gaming tables but there are certain moral and spiritual laws that govern the life of a city or a nation just as certain physical laws govern plants and animal life. Anyone who violates the laws of nature finds that one of the most basic of them is entirely true: “You reap what you sow” In other words, plant oats, you get oats. Plant tulips and tulips come up. Don’t water the roses and they will die. Green thumb or not, we know there is little we can do to change how nature works.
However, somehow the human race seems easily deluded into thinking we can do whatever we like in other realms and it will not affect us or anyone else. Someone in Atlantic City thought casinos would boost the economy and prosper the city. But the Maker of the human race tells us the same law about reaping and sowing applies to the way we live too. We might try to rationalize it away or set up so called safeguards to prevent consequences, but it holds true... go against the law of God and there will be consequences. The book of Proverbs says it like it is: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (14:34)
I don’t know how many righteous people lived in Atlantic City ten years ago. Maybe they were the 20% that moved out. But I do know that it doesn’t take the wisdom of Solomon to see what gambling has done to the neighborhood.
By the way, the word gambling is not in the Bible, but all through Scripture, we are commanded to “trust in the Lord with all our heart.” He promises to take care of those who put their confidence in Christ, not in the flip of a deck of cards, or the spin of a wheel or the toss of some dice.
Closely connected to gambling is the hope of great riches, but Jesus said no one can serve two masters. We must serve God -- not a game of chance, or the money we hope to gain. The Bible says it is God who causes us to prosper. Gambling easily robs people of not only whatever extra God may have profited them but the casinos often leave broken and destitute people -- who usually turn to social assistance for help.
The city fathers in Atlantic City didn’t seem to realize if a person plants a spud, they’ll get a spud. The consequences may vary from their city to a smaller community, but without righteousness to exalt them, the only thing that is lifted up is the bank accounts of the high rollers.