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The Word on the Week

Bookmaker goes Bust

Now there is a rare piece of news! More normal would be “profits up €x million” but these are not normal times. “They’re off” and so is the “Bookie!” may apply to the “on course” Bookmaker who wants to maximise his gains but not to this gambler who had 64 betting shops across Ireland. The old adage that the good guy comes second may fit Celtic Bookmakers owner, Ivan Yates. So how did it come to this? Ivan had an impeccable farming background. He had a good schooling and election to Government at age 21 gave him a flying start. (It was said of his preparation for politics that he was going to funerals when other lads were going to discos!) What lured Ivan into the betting game? Was it the fallacy that gambling is a good bet? Did he fail to move into the more high tech betting methods relying on the traditional scene which had every town in the country served by the betting shop? Whatever it was the bank now effectively owns the chain of shops on the foot of a €6 million debt, the funding of which is likely to leave Ivan penniless. At age 50 he is a comparatively young man with plenty of talents and, to use his favourite expression will “just have to get on with it”. What comment does the Bible have to make on all this? Gambling is covetousness. It is prohibited by the 10th commandment. It differs from other types of investment where people lend money so that they may mutually benefit. In gambling I want to take your money and you want to take mine. It has been described as stealing by mutual consent! Gambling fosters greed and greed grows. It may start off small, “I bought the raffle ticket because it was for a good cause”. But people do not buy raffle tickets to support good causes. If they did the same amount of money could be raised by asking for donations. They want to win the prize. The good cause sanitizes the greed of wanting to win a prise or money. Greed grows from one betting shop to 64 betting shops! Any church which adopts gambling soon turns a house of prayer into a house of cards. Sadly it legitimises the gambler and loses its voice. It has nothing to say to a needy culture. When it tries to speak it lacks creditability. Soon people stop listening. When St Paul listed the things which the new Christians at Colossae had put behind them following their conversion he said, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Chapter 3 v 3/5) And that advice holds good for anyone who wants to follow Christ today.