The spring racing carnival is viewed variously as a reason to dress up, an excuse for gambling disguised as a passion for horse racing, an annoying interlude between the football and cricket seasons, and a completely uninteresting non-event. For all that people might marvel at the equine endeavours of horses or the prowess of trainers, horse racing clearly exists for the purpose of gambling.
But is there anything wrong with that?
On the day of Australia’s biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, many people will spend loads of money on betting, alcohol and outfits. In addition to that, there’s also a $100 million lotto prize up for grabs on the same day (albeit with a one in 45 million chance of winning). If a bet is a bit of one-off fun (“you’ve-got-to-be-in-it-to-win-it”), maybe there’s not any great harm done. If, however, money people can’t really afford to lose is blown on a ‘good day’, then it becomes easier to question the wisdom of the expenditure in the face of eventual loss.
As mentioned in past posts, I’m not sure any of us can claim perfect wisdom in the prioritising of our expenditure, so if someone wants a flutter on the gee-gees or the lotto, I won’t stand in their way. But if the motivation for the gambling is an unhealthy expectation or dependence on a positive outcome, then caring friends should presumably reserve the right the question this. As a Christian, I want my faith to be in God as my provider, but I won’t pontificate or micromanage every half-questionable financial decision.
A fairly strait-laced person once questioned a minister accepting a monetary gift to his church from a gambler, saying, “That’s dirty money”. Coolly accepting the person’s cheque anyway, he replied, “No, that’s my money.”
So when we’re told that the Bible says, “Money is the root of all evil”, let’s remind ourselves that it actually says, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). It’s all about motivation.