Gambling a hidden addiction
By Deborah Froese Mennonite Church Canada
WINNIPEG, Man. — Gambling has a broad range of appeal, from dreams of ending financial struggles to the spark of an adrenalin rush or a temporary escape from everyday challenges.
Christians are not exempt.
Barry Andres, executive director with Addiction and Mental Health for Alberta and a consultant for the development of a Mennonite Publishing Network pamphlet, Dealing with Gambling, says no statistics are available for the number of Christians who gamble. He suspects that, as with other social issues, they would be similar to national statistics.
It’s hard to tell. Compulsive gambling has been called “the hidden disease” nobody wants to talk about.
Gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry that permeates all segments of society. According to Statistics Canada, gambling drew in about $13 billion in 2008 after paying off prizewinners. Over half of that income was profit.
Andres says problem gamblers generate about one-third of Canada’s gambling income and estimates they comprise 3 percent to 5 percent of those who gamble.
Based on those estimates, chances are that in a congregation of 100 adults, at least two may have experienced problems with gambling. If 47 percent of Canada’s 25 million adults engage in gambling, Canada could have more than 325,000 gambling addicts.
Byron Rempel Burkholder, editor for the “Close to Home” pamphlet series, notes that the series steering committee discerned gambling to be one of 20 personal problems Christians may try to hide. Others include pornography, bullying, child abuse, addictions, debt, depression and eating disorders.
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