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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 14:55

Separation of Church and Slot

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Does the Church have a right to weigh in on State matters when it comes to slot games?

Whoa. Risky territory.


Let me preface this by saying I’ve never studied law and my only qualification to talk about this is as a fan of online slots. Being in the industry, you can hardly avoid reading about the legal dramas the US has been experiencing and the latest thing I’ve read is the recent quarrel between Church leaders and legal authorities. So does the Church have a right to lobby the State on matters pertaining to slot games and other gambling issues?


The simple answer is yes; freedom of speech gives influential leaders the right to say their piece. However, the separation of Church and State is at least theoretically a lynchpin for a lot of legal systems in the world and the Church shouldn’t have any degree of actual influence over legislation. But as The West Wing President Bartlett remarked of The Red Mass, ‘Sometimes you just have to say big deal,’ and we all know that in practice political matters are not so clear.


It isn’t only the Church weighing in on the matter of gambling. Online slots have come under fire in recent times, but surprisingly civic organisations seem to have an issue with the cannibalisation of local business rather than any social problems that may arise. Social organisations are also concerned with the potential to cause family breakups and often equate gambling with alcoholism and drug abuse.


At this point I feel that there should be a point made: there is no denying that problem gambling certainly exists and I appreciate the concern of social groups for the wellbeing of families. But not all gamblers are problem gamblers and the millions of us who play safely should have the option to do so. Most gamblers have limits and will switch to alternatives like free slots if they feel they’re spending too much.


I’ll also say this: there are a lot of benefits of having a nanny state coddle us into a gently supported position of safety. Welfare is a humanitarian thing and there’s most definitely a need to look after the members of society who can’t look after themselves. But the Church is an organisation built on belief and free will, and members of a congregation are also the citizens of the country and should appreciate the idea that all people should have the right to choose how they spend their free time (obvious caveats surely unnecessary).


I choose to play casino games. I understand if others don’t. From a legal standpoint, surely it’s not too much to expect that we have the right to make that decision for ourselves?