The guy below won $181 million in the lottery on Wednesday and then on Friday met the love of his life.  Talk about good luck!

Kathy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary last week.  Life has been busy lately but we were able to make a quick trip to Tahoe California to ski for 3 days.  We needed to spend the night in Reno, Nevada on the way down.  We stayed in a beautiful 5 star casino hotel for $32.  I felt like I had won the lottery.  You can’t get a campsite for $32 these days.  The casinos are not trying to make money on their rooms, they just want to get you into the hotel so they can get at your money in the casino.  Of course I am not a good bet (pun intended) for them because I don’t gamble.  I have never even been in a casino before.  Like a sly drug dealer they kept on giving us casino chips every time we had a meal.  I had  no trouble at all taking them to the cashier and exchanging them for cash.  I looked out over the casino at 7 AM on the way for coffee and saw nothing but lonely people sitting by themselves before the sun was even up, smoking, drinking and gambling their money away.  No one looked like they were winning and no one was smiling.

Later that day I entered the biggest pawn shop I have ever seen, right across the street from the casino, and saw lines ups of desperate looking people getting a few dollars for golf clubs, electronics and mostly jewelry – all so they could head back into the casino and lose that as well.   There in the display cases were hundreds… no, thousands of wedding and engagement rings that people had pawned just so they could play for a few more hours.  It may have been one of the most pathetic human conditions I have ever seen, primarily because it is self-inflicted.

Frankly, gambling is the one vise I just don’t get at all.  For the most part, almost nobody ever wins.  The odds are ALWAYS stacked in favour of the house.  All you have to do is look around and see the fountains, and the marble, and the chandeliers etc. and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out whose money is paying for these things.  For the life of me I cannot understand the appeal of losing all my money in a game of chance where the odds are clearly against me.  Yet, gambling has become a huge societal problem that is no longer restricted to Nevada.  Native bands are building casinos ‘to beat the band’, so to speak… on the reserves all over North America.  In the old days it used to be the mob that owned all the casinos in Las Vegas.  Today it is governments of all levels that are by far the biggest gambling proprietors of all.  Winnipeg has 2 government owned casinos.  Then there are the lotteries.  All provinces in Canada and states in the US have government sponsored lotteries that bring millions into their coffers.  I indelicately refer to the lottery as “the tax on the stupid”.  You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning, yet every week the majority of Canadians will contribute at least a few dollars to the cause.

In Canada governments have a net profit of $6.5B off their various gambling operations.  Two thirds of Canadians (over 20 million adults) gamble in one form or another.  1.2 million are classified as seriously addicted.  These are people who gamble away their rent money, car payments, or even grocery money for their children.

We had a musician on our worship team at the church that asked if he could borrow our bass guitar to practice at home.  After 2 months of asking him to return the guitar we confronted him, and sure enough he had pawned the church’s guitar and gambled away the money.  Wow, nothing like stealing from God to feed you gambling habit.

This is easily one of the biggest addiction problems  in our culture… and the governments are the bookies or pimps or pushers or whatever you want to call them… and they know it.  Manitoba Lotteries gives $2.6 million to the Addiction Foundations of Manitoba.  No one is more addicted to gambling than governments.  They have become intoxicated on the revenues and like the Las Vegas mob of the past have developed an insatiable appetite to ensnare you and con you out of your money.  I cannot see a good ending to this story.  It is one thing for the individual to bet the farm, but by making their financial future dependent on gambling, governments themselves are betting the farm.

I know I have little compassion when it comes to this issue.  I guess I just don’t get it.  The scripture is pretty clear on this one if you still aren’t. A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.   A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him. – Proverbs 28:20, 22

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12 Responses to BETTING THE FARM

  1. Bruno says:

    Nothing much to add here, but here’s a good quick question: What’s your view on buying stocks? I’ve never been interested in it, but I was wondering if you see it more as a wolf in sheep’s clothing or as a true “investment.”

  2. Mark Hughes says:

    The stock market is becoming more and more of a fixed roulette wheel every year. The big players use trading robots that follow predetermined algorithms to drive stocks up and down. They also have enormous amounts of cash that they can use to manipulate the market. It is controlled by powerful and greedy people. Unless you are nimble and smart you will get beaten.
    The few stocks I own are all dividend paying stocks that I would consider investments. For the most part I have moved my meager investments into interest paying products since I feel the stock market is indeed a crap shoot.

  3. Sally Y says:

    Gambling is indeed a travesty to family’s. I have a friend in Toronto who divorced her husband when he gambled away their house,cars and life savings. She now has to continue working when she should have been enjoying the fruit of her labours.
    However one of the saddest things I have seen is the effect of gambling on children. When I lived in the North, children would have nothing to eat because all the money has been gambled away. My sons would often bring kids home for lunch so they would have something to eat especially towards the end of the month before government subsidy cheques would come in. Kids were often seen waiting outside VLT lounges for their parents to come out. I even know of one mother who sold her sons goalie equipment in order to gamble.
    It is a very sad thing when we have our own government endorsed gambling. We have definitely become a society that wants a quick fix for everything which makes the get rich quick schemes seem so attractive. It is always easier to dream of winning the lottery rather than having to work hard for everything!

  4. Karen L says:

    The spring I was in high school, my Gramma bought a lottery ticket. Her first ever lottery ticket. The guy in front of her was getting one and the cashier asked her if she would like one…my Gramma won! (I’m not disclosing the amount) It wasn’t much by today’s lottery winning standards.

    My grandparents lived in a house without running water or flush toilets. Everyday my grampa would walk to the pump house and get a pail of water so they could wash and do dishes. They bought a house in town with all the comforts they so deserved. My gramma died that fall. She never really got to “enjoy” her windfall. My grampa lived the rest if his life in that house.

    If used properly, like my grandparents, lottery money can be a blessing. It made my grandparents’ lives much more comfortable in their final years…
    I am thankful for the comfort that the lottery money brought to my grandparents.

    I know that is not the reality for many people.

  5. Betty says:

    “Congratulations”, on your 30th. Wedding anniversary, Pastor Mark & Kathy.

    People that are addicted to gambling or any other addiction, is a sad situation and this story reminded me, of what my friend once said:” They do not have a sin problem, they have a Son problem,” (meaning)they need to hear of who Jesus is, how much He cares for them and Loves them and the rest will follow.

  6. Mat says:

    People are addicted to HOPE. Much like giving money to the Church or praying to God in hope of a better future. People gamble in hope of a better future not because they are addicted to gambling, but because they are addicted to hoping.

  7. Nancy Ng says:

    I don’t ‘get’ gambling either because I’m not addicted to it.
    I’m sure, in the same way non-smokers don’t get the addiction to smoking. Gambling is obviously a powerful addiction so my heart goes out to those afflicted.
    We are called to ‘follow me’ where we will always find Jesus, loving the weak and the powerless.

    I have recently come to understand a new truth in my life. It goes like this, “Happiness was never meant to be a destination, it is nourishment for the journey.”
    I don’t have the right to happiness, just the pursuit of it.

    I have just discovered the Church of the Rock and I’m greatly encouraged by Pastor Mark’s vision.
    I believe the world is ‘drenched in Divinity’ but I don’t often come across a voice so clearly connected to that Love.


  8. Evelyn Bennett says:

    I am with you on this one. It is fun the excuses people come up with why they are gambling. The main reason they do not share is the desperation factor.

    To tell you the honest truth I do not think our government is spending the losses on what benefits the people.

    I love the benefits that come with helping others instead of seeing well earned money being washed down the toilet.

  9. Alex says:

    Great blog as always, my only concern is your choice of photograph. Remember some men are immediately tempted by such images. Of all blogs, a church one should be a safe place for them to visit.

  10. M V says:

    Addiction. Gambling. Drugs. Pornography. Etc… A form of slavery. The devil is the slave owner. COMPASSION and prayer required by christians….

  11. M V says:

    of course… christians too are slaves to addiction.

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