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Gambling is any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Such activities include betting, fruit machines.


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A second topic is the religious, spiritual, and magical dimensions of gambling in modern The many religions of the world have varying attitudes to gambling.


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The relationship between risk attitude and religion has originated through gambling, wherein gambling is considered a sinful activity (Hoffmann, ). Religious.


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Attitudes toward gambling have changed over the decades, but fundamentalist religions tend to think of it as a sin. But is it really, and if so, why.


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Gambling is any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Such activities include betting, fruit machines.


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However, most of the literature on this topic has examined it in terms of the attitudes of members of various Christian denominations. Attitudes of Jewish Israeli.


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However, most of the literature on this topic has examined it in terms of the attitudes of members of various Christian denominations. Attitudes of Jewish Israeli.


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However, most of the literature on this topic has examined it in terms of the attitudes of members of various Christian denominations. Attitudes of Jewish Israeli.


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Gambling is any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Such activities include betting, fruit machines.


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Attitudes toward gambling have changed over the decades, but fundamentalist religions tend to think of it as a sin. But is it really, and if so, why.


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Morgan's League of the Iroquois :. The message is that the Church offers a better alternative than gambling. Nevertheless, gambling in modern societies has both religious and magical elements. This was a common belief at least up to the s, and in some places, such as Naples, it persisted to the end of the 20th century e. Evidently, prayers to gambling gods are an old Chinese practice Harrell, , p. The superstitions of gamblers, their ideas of what brings either good or bad luck in gambling, are innumerable for an overview, see Reith, , chap. Some of these gods are asked by lottery players to reveal the winning numbers of the next draw. In this advertisement, however, it presented gambling and religion as two alternative and competing ways of obtaining hope for a better life. Gambling thereby became a measure of the supernatural powers of the players; gambling was construed not as a game of chance, but as a contest in what could be called games of magical skill for a telling example, see Culin, , p. About a third of the winners of huge top prizes in American lotteries believed that their winning was guided by divine or mystical forces Kaplan, People who already have religious faith might be inclined to give divine powers the credit for a big win, and some believers, despite the fact that most clergy would certainly object, also pray to God for gambling winnings. The first is the unity of religion and gambling in many traditional cultures. Thus, jackpot wins inspire reflections on luck, fate, blessings, and an eventual higher justice. Among the North American Indians, success at gambling was commonly regarded as a proof of the spiritual power of the winner. This was common among the North American Indians Culin, , esp. It is common for winners to give substantial sums of money as gifts to relatives; work less and allow themselves more time for personal interests, such as sports, cultural events, and hobbies; and travel in order to get away from everyday life and gain a broader perspective on life. In modern Western societies gambling and religion are construed as entirely separate spheres, kept apart through institutionalisation. Jackpot wins and jackpot winners are quite frequent topics in Swedish newspaper reporting and also in everyday conversations among Swedes. Divinatory use of gambling is known from other parts of the world as well, for instance from China, where gambling can be a way to discover shifts in one's fate on Chinese emigrants, see Gabb, ; Papineau, This affinity between divination and gambling was noted by the anthropologist Edward Tylor , pp. Most lottery players seem to hope for greater peace of mind and relief from economic difficulties and worries for the future. A ource of inspiration for this paper was an advertising campaign launched by the Church of weden in , intended to promote interest in religious matters as the public elections for the local parish councils approached. A person suddenly has good fortune. As this practice was never reprobated by their religious teachers, but on the contrary, rather encouraged, it frequently led to the most reckless indulgence. At least in Sweden, however, the realisation of the truer and better self is typical both in the hope for a jackpot and in jackpot winners' accounts of their plans for the future. Indeed, gambling as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life has not withered away in popular imagination and culture. The jackpot win is described as a test of morals and character, it is implied that the good are rewarded and those in need are blessed, and it is suggested that luck and destiny are important for winning the jackpot. In southern Italy a number of saints were in the past and to some extent are still today believed to be willing to help lotto players. To buy a lottery ticket is to buy hope. The elements common to gambling and religion are viewed in this model as both promoting concord and aggravating conflict. Among these superstitions we find phenomena that otherwise belong to religion: belief in omens, charms, and mystical revelation, as well as ritualistic behaviour and the idea that messages are conveyed from a transcendent realm by means of dreams. Thus, notions of luck, fortune, and fate are important in gambling. It often happened that the Indian gambled away every valuable article which he possessed; his tomahawk, his medal, his ornaments, and even his blanket. It might be objected that lottery jackpots inspire indulgence in dreams of material and mundane excess, while Christians put hope in spiritual salvation. The message of the advertising campaign was thus that people are in need of consolation, affirmation, fellowship, and hope, but that they are looking in the wrong places and should approach the Church to see what it has to offer to fulfil these needs. The mystical dimension of gambling encompasses altered states of consciousness and dissociation, which are reported to follow from intense gambling and in particular when playing highly repetitive games such as slot machines.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} Although gambling could take place solely for amusement, among the North American Indians it was often part of rituals and ceremonies. Notions of luck and fate will be discussed, as well as dissociative and transcendental experiences induced by intense gambling. Rosenthal, A win is interpreted as a sign that good luck will continue or that a streak of bad luck is about to end, and a loss is interpreted in the opposite way. The third topic is the religious denunciation of gambling, and it will be argued that religions strongly opposing gambling are characterised by a claim to universal religious authority. Gambling, in a wide variety of societies, is associated with religious practices and mythology. In many traditional non-Western societies gamblers may pray to the gods for success and explain wins and losses in terms of divine will. When gambling on one of these games, the players invoked the proper god of war, and prayers for success were addressed to him. Within the mystical sphere of luck and gambling thrives a multitude of magical beliefs and practices. Equipment used in the games was offered at the altars of these gods. Finally, gambling could be used for divination. Established religions condemn gambling for several reasons, and four major themes in Christian antigambling arguments are identified. Generally, the imagery of cosmogonal gambling can be seen as a way of reconciling a notion of the gods as powerful with the impression that the world to some extent was created arbitrarily: the gods gambled at the creation of the world and thereby the world happened to become as it is. An early report from the Huron in the 18th century, cited by Culin , pp. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}This paper discusses the diverse relationships between gambling and religion in various societies and at various times in history and suggests a theoretical model for how these relationships can be understood. Good fortune is typically perceived in a similar way. This is a salient theme in the frequent newspaper reporting on jackpot winners Binde, ; cf. The advertisement depicting the instant lottery ticket attracted considerable attention in the press and also within the Church. A human being cannot do anything that is certain to be rewarded by grace. For a comparatively insignificant sum of money, buyers of lottery tickets acquire the possibility of winning a fortune that could change their lives for the better. This paper will discuss the diverse relationships between gambling and religion at various times in history and in various societies and suggest a general model of how these relationships can be understood. For example, among the Iroquois Culin, , p. There is no action that he or she can perform that for certain will bring forth good fortune, although charms and luck-bringing rituals may be believed to have the potential to do so. The result of the game was interpreted as signifying who among the gods would prevail—that is, if a dry or wet season was to be expected Culin, , pp. The elements that gambling and religion share have thus become a source of conflict. The theological meaning of grace is according to the Enciclopedia cattolica, — a free gift, conferred upon human beings by God. It is argued that gambling and religion have certain elements in common: notions of the unknown, mystery, and fate, as well as imagery of suddenly receiving something of great value that changes life for the better. The Church did not officially embrace the ideas that saints and the spirits of the dead took an interest in lottery gambling. Similarly, the spirits of the dead in purgatory were in southern Italy believed to be able to reveal winning lotto numbers. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is very difficult to gamble without being affected at least to some extent by intuitive notions of luck cf. The examples were systematically selected to illustrate contrasts and similarities in how gambling and religion relate to each other. Gamblers thus pray to deities, saints, and spirits for success. The elevation of gambling to a fatalistic philosophy of life—constituting an alternative to the Christian outlook that God has inscrutable plans for the individual lives of human beings—has a long history. He or she can only try to do what is righteous according to Christian teaching and hope that God grants him or her grace. Games of chance, gambling, and religion can merge in a number of other ways for overviews concerning the North American Indians, see Salter, , In mythology there are numerous examples of gambling being linked with deities, often in episodes that describe the creation of the world. A second topic is the religious, spiritual, and magical dimensions of gambling in modern Western societies. A ontemporary example of gods being regarded as involved in gambling is the worship of local deities, represented by statues, in Taiwan Yu, , chap. Some welcomed it as it highlighted the perceived excessive gambling habits of the Swedes, while others thought it wrongly made ordinary people feel guilty about their innocent and occasional purchase of lottery tickets. The activation of powerful spirits by gambling was, among the Iroquois, also the rationale for staging gambling games for the purpose of promoting the growth of the crops Salter, Since gambling was part of religious ceremonies, religious leaders of North American tribes encouraged and took an active part in it. Evidently, the advertisement expressed an idea that caught the public's attention. Luck is something inherently mystical—there are today no elaborate folk theories on the subject, but rather vague intuitions and a plethora of lore about how luck is gained and lost. This power was usually gained by arduous vision quests in the wilderness, where spiritual beings or phenomena were encountered e. Thus, the imagined as well as the actual new life of the lottery winner is more often characterised by altruism, self-fulfilment, and peace of mind than by going on an exorbitant spending spree. Among the Iroquois at New Year, for instance, men played against women at the game of the peach stones in order to foretell the quality of the harvest: if the men won, the corn would grow tall, but if the women won, it would grow short Beauchamp, , p. This dream of personal transformation has similarities, as the advertisement of the Church of Sweden discussed earlier suggests, with the Christian hope for salvation and spiritual peace. Gambling as a means of healing illness was also practised by the Huron Culin, , pp. Three topics will be discussed. A large number of ethnographic examples from various cultures and times will be used to support the arguments offered here. In the Age of Reason this philosophy was perceived as crumbling under the weight of deistic Voltaire and mechanistic Descartes determinism, hence these verses by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov — , cited in Lotman , p. The Church of Sweden was long expressly critical of gambling, picturing the gambler as sinful and depraved. In a structural sense, then, grace and good fortune are similar: good fortune can be viewed as a secular form of divine grace Binde, , pp. To gamble in a church would be unacceptable although church bingo comes close and therefore is a contested practice , while praying for salvation in a casino would probably be regarded as the symptom of a nervous breakdown caused by monumental losses and too many hours at the gaming tables. Thus, luck belongs to a mystic sphere, contrasting with the rationality favoured in much of today's society. The state-owned lottery company complained that the advertisement violated the trademark of the Triss lottery. Monotheistic religions that claim authority in religious and transcendental matters, however, tend to denounce gambling, and this disapproval has been strengthened by a conception that gambling offers a wicked alternative to certain religious notions and experiences. Both grace and good fortune derive from a notion that the cornerstone of social and economic relations—reciprocity—can temporarily be suspended and one can receive without having to give. San Pantaleone has widely been regarded as the patron saint of lotto players, to be invoked by reading his novena at night Conte, , pp. In many traditional cultures gambling has existed in concord with polytheistic and animistic religion; gambling and religion go well together precisely because of the elements they have in common. In Greek mythology the lordship of the parts of the world was decided by a dice game, the outcome of which made Zeus lord of the sky, Hades lord of the underworld, and Poseidon lord of the sea. The examples pertain mainly to traditional tribal cultures and their animistic religions and ancient and modern states with polytheistic or monotheistic religions. As in traditional cultures, gamblers may attribute winnings to God and higher powers.