The Word on the Week

Casino Country

When the cats away the mice do play – or should it be gamble? No sooner had the chairman of the Planning Appeals Board retired than the Board made the astonishing decision to grant permission to almost all the Casino promoters asked for. The 800-acre Tipperary Venue, close to the village of Two-Mile-Borris, will include a 500-bedroom five-star hotel; a 6,000sq m casino; an all-weather racecourse; a greyhound track and a golf course. In addition a full sized replica of the White House in Washington is to be built, presumably to make the gamblers from America feel at home! Only the 15,000 capacity underground entertainment facility was given the thumbs down by the planners. The enterprise, which is costed at €460 million, is being promoted by developer Richard Quirke, a former garda from Thurles who is best known for running Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium gaming arcade on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. Independent TD Michael Lowry, no stranger to the licensing business, supports the project which will require Government to pass the proposed new legislation to enable the casino to be licensed. It was banker gambling that brought into our current financial mess and it looks like we are upping the stakes to casino gambling to get us out of it! Has the Bible to say to the matter? Casinos are really cathedrals of covetousness.. They are the last word in providing the excitement of losing or winning on a grand scale. The plush surroundings provide a heady stimulus to acting ‘big’ and very likely, losing your shirt! The 10th Commandment “You shall not covet” (Exodus chapter 20 verse 17) shows that God recognises our weakness and gives us the injunction to prevent us from harming ourselves. Perhaps the best known gambling incident in the Bible was when the Roman soldiers gambled away Christ’s clothes which they had stripped from him. Above their heads hung the only one who could save them, not just from the addiction of gambling but from all sin. Their boss, the centurion, came close to believing in Jesus when he recognised that he was the Son of God. (Matthew 27: 35 & 54) Like the Centurion we need to recognise who Jesus is and turn from trusting in lady luck to trusting the living God who has promised to live in all who love him. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)