Inspirational & Insightful Quotations# 69 -- Gambling

Quotations on Gambling

Corruption, crookedness and gambling go hand in hand, and never yet has it been possible to separate them. Big-time gambling is unique in being wholly parasitic. It produces no new wealth, performs no useful service. It walks hand in hand with gangsterism, theft and murder. Any and every attempt to legalize it must be met with instant opposition from the great majority of citizens who want to keep their homes and their communities free of corruption and crookedness.

—Roger William Riis, Coronet, Chicago, Ill., July 1946.

Gambling is wrong because it robs the dependent family of its share of the husband’s earning; because it is the outcome of a habit that weakens the moral fiber of the man; because it harms society.

---Arthur Gray Staples, Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Me., Nov. 2, 1929.

Gambling is something entirely different from giving and buying and selling. It is not giving; so far is the loser in the game from a benevolent intention towards the winner, that he regards him as his antagonist, and engages in the game for the avowed purpose of stripping the said antagonist and enriching himself. It is not a matter of purchase and sale, for the winner gives nothing, and proposes to give nothing in exchange for the stake he carries off.

A gift blesses both him that gives and him that takes. It yields the giver the luxury of conscious benevolence, and the receiver the scarcely inferior luxury of gratitude. A genuine, hearty gift has beauty and sweetness about it. It tells of friendship, of love, or of goodness. We show our presents with a sort of happy pride; and we think with pleasure of what we have given away. When we have given for anything an equivalent in money or property, we say we have bought it; and when we regard money or property as the product of our honest labor, we say we have earned it. In both of these words, “bought” and “earned,” there is a pure and pleasant ring—they imply right and justice. But in the acquisition of money by gambling the case is quite different. The winner cannot say, “I bought it,” or “I earned it,” or “It was given to me;” he says, “I won it.” And that means he gave no equivalent for it; that he from whom he took it parted with it most unwillingly, and so far from giving it, characterized it as “lost.”

But the question is whether or not gambling is honest. We do not deny that a bet may be fairly made and fairly carried out, nor that a game of cards may be fairly played, even where a regular gambler is one of the players. That is, there may be no fraud used by either party in the bet or game; but is there not a question lying back of the mere manner in which gambling may be done? The real question is whether gambling is not dishonest, even when fairly done? We think it is. The most that can be said for the right of the winner to keep the money won, is that the loser went into the game fully aware of the chances, and would himself have kept the stakes had he been successful. But this is only saying that the two parties in the game agreed beforehand to the chances of the game; and that the loser was, in a sense, voluntary. Mere agreement, however, cannot make wrong right. Two men agree to fight a duel, and one is killed; will we say it is all right because the seconds examined the weapons and regulated the whole affair according to the rules of honor? Do the rules of honor, however punctiliously guarded and observed, take from the soul of the survivor the guilt of murder, or from the soul of the dead man the guilt of suicide? Is not the guilt enhanced by the very fact of the cool, deliberate agreement of the parties to “set their lives upon a throw?” All Christian civilization answers, “Certainly.” Or, take the lower case of two bullies engaging in a regular fisticuff for the dirty honor of the championship of the prize ring. They agree to be beaten each just as much as his antagonist is able to beat him. But does the mere voluntariness of the struggle make their bruising of one another right? Has not each done the other a wrong in every injury inflicted? Could any agreement give them a right to spill each other’s blood and bruise each other’s faces? You answer, “No; they are a hundred fold more wicked for the brutal agreement than if they had fallen upon each other in a moment of passion, and injured one another against the convictions of their cooler judgment.”

Now will this logic apply equally well to gambling? Why not? Have we any more right to injure a man with his consent in his property than in his person? If a man cannot give a duelist a moral right to kill him; if one bully cannot give another a moral right to kick and cuff him, to break a limb or knock out an eye or a tooth, can one gambler give another a right to rob him? It is clear, therefore, that however the parties gambling may consent to the rules of the game, the gambler’s gains are dishonestly gotten. They are neither earned, nor secured by other equivalent; they are not given to him, and the fact that by the rules of the game it was agreed that either should take the other’s money if he could, only makes the wrong the greater by proving that it was deliberate.

We may be told that the equivalent rendered by the successful gambler to his victim is the chance to become winner. But whatever else this may be, it is certainly not an equivalent. An equivalent is that which a man receives for his money, and the loser receives nothing for his. By the very terms of the game, the loser agrees to part with his money without an equivalent, and the winner to take it without making a return. That is the meaning of having a chance. It is to agree to be injured ourselves, or to injure another. Indeed, each one, knowing that he may be either winner or loser, consents both to injure and to be injured. The chance, therefore, so far from being the loser’s equivalent, is a direct violation of the law which demands an equivalent. Indeed, it is only chance, so far as the two players are concerned; as it respects the law which requires us not to injure our neighbor, it is no chance at all. Whichever wins, justice is violated and robbery is committed.

This has been the common opinion in all ages and nations. Gambling has usually been associated with great crimes against the peace and purity of society. It has been supposed to make the way for dueling and suicide, and we know that both of these have frequently resulted from it. Gamblers have almost always been regarded as infamous, quite as much so as counterfeiters or burglars. Nearly all nations, ancient and modern, have found it necessary to pass laws for the prevention of gambling. In ancient Rome the law at one time went so far as to confiscate the gambling house and everything in it. If anyone maltreated the keeper of a gambling house, the abused man had no recourse in law. He was regarded as a common enemy. In the Eastern empire, at one time, money lost in gambling could be recovered by law, and if the loser would not sue, the magistrate might do it, and devote the money to the public use. …

There are few bold enough in sin to defend what is usually characterized as gambling. There is a wholesome, general horror of professional gamblers and of their resorts, usually called hells, and there is now and then a feeble, if not a merely pretended effort, to discover these haunts and to bring their keepers and visitors to light. All are ready to allow that such gambling is associated with every crime, with robbery, with blasphemy, drunkenness, and with every form of impurity. But we come tonight to inquire whether there are not other forms of gambling right among us which we vainly labor to whitewash into respectability. If wealthy and respectable people breed fine horses and cultivate their speed with more care than they train their children, and then match them against other horses on the racecourse for large sums of money, are they not gambling?

Are they not doing boldly, in the face of the world, what others of less note are doing in concealment? When we have “gut concerts,” at which hundreds of people are gathered together under the thin disguise of some trifling performance, for the purpose of participating in a lottery, are we not gambling just as really as if we sat down at cards and played for large heaps of currency? To such questions there can be but one honest answer, and that is, that the lottery, the gift enterprise, the horse race, the raffle, are all forms of gambling, all games of chance, in which money or property is risked. So numerous are the gift enterprises becoming, and so do they threaten to damage public morals, that even the secular press, slow as it usually is to attack fashionable vice, is beginning to resist. …

Is every lottery, by whatever name known or disguised, gambling? Lotteries are acknowledged to be mere games of chance. No amount of respectable patronage or favor, and no amount of human legislation, can convert sin into virtue, or make of a lottery anything better than gambling. When respectable men so far forget themselves as to give their influence to a system of gambling which sweeps over the breadth of the whole country, it shows that the bonds of public opinion on moral questions are in danger of being loosened. The respectable men who give their public sanction to lotteries have either lost all sense of their wrong, of they think the public conscience is weakened on the subject and that they are in no danger of being called to account.

And this latter, we fear, is the true state of the case. The spirit of gambling seems to have taken possession of the public mind as with power and rage of madness. It careers over the country and the world like a destructive tornado. It looks as though it would tear up the even foundations of right and wrong, and obliterate, or at least cover up with flying rubbish, the very sense of honesty between man and man. Why, if it comes to be settled that a gambling operation is a legitimate method of alienating property, then why not, in time, any other method of robbery? The horse race brings its exciting blight of betting and bluster and bravado in the place of the genial quiet which formerly was so noteworthy of a feature of the place. Of all the forms of gambling, horse racing seems most nearly allied to coarseness and vulgarity.

We see in this corruption of gaming great danger to our Christian civilization. “Thou shalt not steal” is a law of that civilization, and the forbidden act is at once a sin and a disgrace. But if indirect methods of swindling, such as gift enterprises undoubtedly are, should come into vogue and become the accepted morality in regard to the transfer of property, it is such a dishonesty in itself, and involves so much chicanery and deception in the carrying out, that the very foundations of morality will be rendered insecure. Passion, lust, greed, ambition, license will become dominant. Spiritual realities will fade away in the popular mind into shadowy superstitions.

If, with this serpent of gaming stinging the very source of public morality, the great body of the people should fall into a spiritual delirium, and grow, even partially oblivious of the great, the divine law of right, how would the guiding stars of life fall from their orbits and become common as dirt under men’s feet, and how would the age rush back to the impurity, the skepticism, the slavery, the cruelty of the ancient pagan world! What would hinder the re-establishment of slavery? If morality is baseless, nothing is sin. If a man’s property may be lawfully taken away by a swindle, why might not he himself be owned?

If this rush of the world towards gambling is not soon checked, there is no telling where it will end. Let all, and especially the young, according to the proverb, “beware of beginnings.” “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.” No one suddenly becomes totally corrupt. Dallying with vice, mitigating it, apologizing for it, always precede the embrace of it, and the little vices, so called, are embraced first. No one suddenly becomes what is called a blackleg. The beginning of such a character lies far back, perhaps in the boys’ winning of toys, or, if in mature line, perhaps the social card parties of “art gift enterprises.” First the hook with a bait, and the bait gilded and scented with the tinsel and cologne of respectability and fashion, and then the naked hook in due time becomes itself a charm.

Shy at first, but deceived and drawn on by degrees, we by and by lose our power of discerning between good and evil, and roundly laugh at the scruples of those who still refuse to yield up their honesty and simplicity.

Indeed, I have already seen one substantially, in what is called the wheel of fortune; all that was wanting was the substitution of cards for numbers, a substitution which would be quite in keeping with the spirit of the times. It would only be taking the bait off the hook, or presenting the thorn without the deceitful flower.

Again, we say, avoid beginnings! Refuse to do even a doubtful thing. Always give virtue the benefit of your doubts. Surely there are safe ways enough open, both of pleasure and business, in which we may go. Let us be resolved that, instead of being mere drift on the tide of gambling now rolling through the land, we will do our best to stem it and throw it back.

---Bernard H. Nadal, The Evening Telegraph, Philadelphia, Pa.., Jan. 28, 1867.

Gambling is nothing but stealing by permission.

—John F. Anderson, Jr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 17, 1958.

A gambler who beats and wins is a thief. If he beats and loses, he is a fool. So every gambler is either a fool or a thief or both.

—Billy Sunday, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Feb. 18, 1924.

People that are forever trying to get something for nothing usually find themselves doing business with the same kind of people.

—Frank Irving Fletcher, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 25, 1928.

When one wins at lottery, he learns to be a spendthrift of easy money. So when he wins, he loses.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, April 5, 1925.

People who gamble usually pay the bill–in advance.

—Vernald William Johns, Garland Times, Garland, Utah, June 14, 1935.

Gambling money operates to defeat the will of the people and poisons government at its source.

—George E.A. Johnson, quoted by Paul R. Hortin, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla., Sept. 17, 1934.

A gambler has sintegrity.

—Walter Kuttner, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 13, 1951.

All gambling enterprises are a source of political corruption, encouraging slush funds, machine politics and controlled elections.

—Adiel J. Moncrief, Jr., Tampa Sunday Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 3, 1940.

Gambling is the unmoral transfer of property.

—Cleveland Smith, The Daily Iberian, New Iberia, La., Nov. 19, 1955.

Gambling is not so much an expression of the sporting instinct as it is a symptom of recklessness, desperation and boredom.

—Cleveland Smith, The Daily Iberian, New Iberia, La., Nov. 24, 1956.

One of the surest ways to remain poor is to systematically strive to get something for nothing.

—Bert Moses, Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., June 29, 1940.

Nobody profits less by experience than a gambler.

—Bert Moses, Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., Jan. 2, 1941.

The vice of gambling is not the loss of money which you can afford to lose. The vice of it is your covetousness of money that somebody else cannot afford to lose–that and the insidious insanity which gets into your head to tempt you to risk money that you have no right to put in jeopardy.

—Lynn W. Landrum, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 1, 1938.

When you win at gambling you lose, for you gain someone else's money at the cost of your own moral stamina. Nothing in the world is of real value except that which comes of labor and honest effort.

—W.C. Martin, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 27, 1935.

Dishonesty is the desire to get a thing of value without an equivalent. Gambling is getting a thing of value without an equivalent by means of action. Hence, a man or woman who uses chance in any way to get anything of value, both gambles and is dishonest.

—F.M. McConnell, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, May 6, 1909.

The mother of gambling is greed. The father is heartlessness. ...

The worst thing about gambling, perhaps, is the stirring and promotion of the gambling passion. This is done before the gambler becomes recognized as such. The boy or girl has the desire for all sorts of things. They may be bought and worked for, obtained as gifts, or gotten in other ways. One attractive way is by chance. Following this up, meditating upon getting something by chance, planning to get it that way feeds the gambling passion and increases the opportunities of those who search for victims.

Gamblers are leeches on society, beasts of prey, hunting victims and speeding sorrow, disappointment and pain.

—F.M. McConnell, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, July 20, 1933.

Chance is gambling only when it is used to get something for nothing. Gambling may be defined as an effort to get something of value for nothing by means of chance. It is essentially contrary to the very definition of honesty. ... There is no greater school of dishonesty than is gambling. It plants the poison every time is gains a foothold in the heart.

—F.M. McConnell, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, March 9, 1939.

The gambling spirit has doubtless to a considerable degree been aroused by the rapidity with which great fortunes have been accumulated. ... It is the result of the "get-rich-quick" fever. Many men and women have got riches–"and not by right"–who do not know how to spend either their money or their unfamiliar leisure which hangs heavy on their hands. They turn to gambling because their heads and hearts are vacant and they crave the excitement to dissipate their idle weariness as the morphine fiend craves his drug.

Gambling in its essence is the endeavor to get something without giving an equivalent in return. Its relationship to stealing has not infrequently been pointed out to be precisely the same as that of dueling to murder. The essential feature to both stealing and gambling is the transfer of property to which the recipient has no honorable title.

—Henry Wilder Foote, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., March 26, 1906.

Whether wealth is valuable or not, depends upon how it is acquired and how used. Those who have earned it by hard, patient work and saved it through strict economy, are the ones who appreciate it most. But too many love the easy way of getting it, yet they fail to remember that which is easily gotten is often easily lost.

Money is the measure of wealth and the easiest and most attractive way to get wealth is to acquire it in the form of money. This naturally leads to gambling. All attempts to get wealth are more invest in real estate, the price may rise or fall and we gain or lose as a result of the changes in the market. If we plant a crop we are gambling with the frost, the draught, the winds and the rains. If they come right we win, if they come wrong we lose. If we invest our money in a store and work for ourselves, we may win or lose as conditions are good or bad.

This has led many to gamble for money. These have the idea it is foolish to gamble in the other ways which involve much labor, when we may play a game of cards and win or lose in much the same manner. The gambler thinks his money belongs to him and no one has a right to object if he chooses to stake it on a game. That may be true, but gambling develops into an uncontrollable mania, similar to the whiskey and opium habits and it soon makes its victims slaves.

—J.H. Funderburg, Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., March 5, 1938.

A regular gambler is one of the lowest of the depraved in humanity. They are relics of the age of barbarity. These gamblers are several thousand years too old, they belong in dead and gone ages.

—E.M. Griffin, The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, May 3, 1909.

Gambling is dangerous business, for it develops a man so that he becomes careless in the taking of chances.

—A.J. Gearheard, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Feb. 26, 1922.

The least excusable thing that I know of is the practice of gambling. I would gladly endorse a campaign that would make losing at games of chance punishable by the same score as larceny.

—A.J. Gearheard, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Jan. 3, 1926.

Gambling deadens the finer senses of the soul and destroys reverence for holy things. ...

Gambling has selfishness for its father and avarice for its mother. It grows out of a desire to get something for nothing at another's expense.

It destroys all self-reliance on the part of those who engage in it. Its devotees depend for success upon luck and fortune instead of upon courage and self-reliant effort. When luck has turned, and it will turn sooner or later, they are utterly without resource. ...

Gambling leads to many other forms of vice, such as lying, stealing, murder, drinking and domestic unpleasantness.

It contributes to the inefficiency of labor today.

—L.T. Hastings, Baptist Message, Shreveport, La., March 16, 1922.

The claim is made by some that if gambling were made legal, it would eliminate the corruption that now controls so much of the "industry." That simply is not true. ...

There will always be those who intend to gamble regardless of what anyone says. To salve their own consciences such people often foolishly rationalize that all of life is a risk. Of course there are risks to life; these are part of the world of natural law. We must travel, work, and conduct our daily affairs if we are to survive in our environment. Such pursuits are in no way the covetously motivated desire to risk one's possessions in order to extract profit from someone else for nothing!

—David Holland, Beauregard DaiIy News, DeRidder, La., July 16, 1993.

The lottery system is a great evil. Its effects upon any community are disastrous. It unsettles people’s minds, drawing them away from their legitimate pursuits, and creates a moral fever which is sure to leave behind an unhealthy influence, and break forth anew when circumstances favor it. It is a species of gambling that is all the more dangerous because tolerated by law and public opinion, and is as demoralizing in its effects as staking money on games of chance, though not called by the same name. ... Every scheme offering inducements to the public to risk small sums for the chance of becoming rich or obtaining some valuable article ought to be discountenanced by the press, and we should be glade to see them prohibited by legislative enactment, as dangerous to the commonwealth. They promote a desire for reckless speculation and lead to gambling in its worst forms. Even those who are fortunate in these enterprises receive more injury than benefit in the disposition developed to risk their means again and again, forsaking their regular pursuits, in hopes of gaining large fortunes, while the great majority of the investors must of course meet with chagrin and disappointment. Every person who has the welfare of the community at heart will use his influence to discourage them in any shape.

—Franklin D. Richards and Charles W. Penrose, Ogden Junction, Ogden, Utah, Nov. 5, 1870

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