The evils of Gambling

Government Consultation on Gambling Machines in Bookmakers

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs, also known as B2s) are machines sited in bookmakers’ premises and Casinos that provide rapid, continuous play on Casino-like games, giving the user the false illusion that there is an element of skill. At present, the maximum stake per single play is £100, enabling losses into thousands of pounds over a short time. As the play is fast and the stakes variable and can be paid using a debit card, it is hard to keep track of losses. Recognising the dangerous impact of these machines, the government is holding a public consultation which, among other things, is looking at reducing the maximum stake to a lower amount between £50 and £2. They are not offering the option of removing FOTBs completely. However, the consultation closes on 23 January 2018. The positive impact of this consultation could be the closure of half of all betting shops. So please take part by sparing a few minutes and respond to this by sending the email template provided below to the board that is holding the consultation.

The main social problems of FOBTs:

  1. FOBTs enable gamblers to easily indulge and incur very heavy losses.
  2. They lead to addictive gambling, 87% of FOBT users said they were ‘addictive’.
  3. Addicts suffer mental and physical health problems that damage individuals and communities.
  4. People lose their homes and jobs and face bankruptcy.

The closure of betting shops will:

  1. Reduce easy access to gambling on the streets.
  2. Stop gambling hitting already disadvantaged people, the unemployed adults.

Islam teaches us that all good and bad is designed and created by Allah. Man is a responsible being who has been honoured to be His representative, nothing happens by chance, it’s been designed by Allah the Creator, the Originator, the Designer, the Planner, the Strategist and the Fashioner. Gambling on the other hand is an activity that puts faith in chance and luck, not on effort and design. This is a social evil that blights many societies, for example Americans this year will legally gamble away nearly $100 billion. Islam teaches that we earn a livelihood with hard work, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “to earn a clean living is also a duty next (only) to the principal duties of Faith” (Baihaqi).

 The definitions of Gambling

  1. To play at any game of chance for stakes
  2. To stake or risk money or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance e.g. gamble on the result of a race
  3. To lose or squander by betting
  4. To bet on an uncertain outcome  (The Webster’s Dictionary)

Gambling can take many forms:

  • Gaming: Playing for money in any game of chance; Slot machines, Roulette, Bingo, Punch boards, Dream books, Chain letters, Pyramid money games, Poker, Black-jack etc
  • Betting: Staking money on an event when the outcome is doubtful, e.g. Horse or Dog racing, Cock or Dog fights, football or in fact any competitive sport.
  • Lotteries: A lottery is the distribution of prizes by the drawing of lots. Most places unfortunately run a variety of lotteries, giving it legitimacy.

In summary, all of the above are recognised as gambling because each one contains elements of gambling – A payoff, the element of chance, and the stake that is risked. It is important not to confuse gambling with, raffles; if you buy a ticket for a worthy cause, with the purpose of it being a donation to a worthy organisation, that’s not gambling, giving prizes, life insurance (a way of spreading the liability and risk of accident, illness, injury or death around). Investing in the stock market and buying/selling of shares is also not considered gambling.

Why does Islam reject and condemns gambling?

Simply because it’s an idolatrous activity. Allah commands us to live a life of faith and trust in the Lord. He is the Provider and Carer. A gambler relies on chance, luck, and fortune. The passage below reveals that Allah intensely dislikes gambling:

Believers! Wine, gambling by drawing lots, the use of pagan sacrificial altars, or foretelling the future with arrows are filthy works of Satan; reject them so that you may succeed in life. 91 With wine and gambling Satan wishes to sow enmity and hatred between you, and to divert you from the remembrance of Allah and performance of the prayer. So, will you now stop? 92 Obey Allah and the Messenger, and beware; if you turn away that will be bad, you know Our Messenger’s duty is to deliver the message clearly” (Maida: 90-92).

Furthermore, it’s like stealing; the winner has gained at the expense of a loser, he has in a sophisticated way taken from the wretched loser, although with his reluctant permission, its still not right. A robbery by consent in other words. It is morally repugnant since the sole purpose is to gain something without toil and hard work at the expense of others. It is a wretched mindset, ‘something for nothing’ and the greedy and selfish attitude of ‘get rich quick’.

Gambling has many other problems such as; it’s addictive, increases crime, corrupts governments, causes family problems, depresses legitimate business, increases welfare costs, develops human desperation and produces a wrong attitude towards work.

Template for email

You may wish to copy and paste the following when responding to the Government’s consultation, and insert your own details in the highlighted sections. The email should be sent no later than 23 January 2018 to:

[For email subject box: Response to Government Consultation on Gaming Machines in Bookmakers]

I write on behalf of my place or worship/faith-based organisation [insert name] to express our views on this consultation. We are deeply concerned about the social and individual impacts of FOBTs; enabling hardcore gambling on the high street; exposing vulnerable people to heavy losses; encouraging addictive behaviour; and leading to violence in and around the places where they are used. Our members and volunteers see and have to deal with the real and very damaging effects of these impacts on a daily basis. Families are impoverished, individuals lose jobs and their social support systems, and town centres feel more threatening. [You could add an example here from your own experience].

One of the worst features of FOTBs that brings about these social evils is the very high maximum stake, which enables losses to build up very quickly and is associated with addictive gambling. We therefore urge you to cut the maximum stake to £2, being the lowest possible choice offered by the consultation.

I look forward to your acknowledgement of this email, and to seeing an improvement in society as a result of this important consultation.

Kind regards,

[Name and place of worship/faith-based organisation]