Free from sports betting

Sports betting has become a multibillion-dollar industry. But activity based on chance can never provide the security that comes from trusting in God, who is unchanging good.

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It’s estimated that tens of billions of dollars were spent in the sports betting market around the world in 2021. Some sportscasts now feature odds analysis along with their commentary on the sports activity itself. A growing list of US sports stadiums house a betting kiosk. With more legalization and easier access, the industry expects to grow dramatically in the next few years.

While there are good, moral arguments against sports betting, for me the strongest argument against it is compassionate and practical. Betting just doesn’t work. It doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction, stability, or progress to the individual or society. The desire to wager stems from a conception of ourselves that isn’t consistent with God’s nature or with our own identities as God’s spiritual offspring.

The Bible registers humanity’s progressive understanding of the nature of God as infinite Spirit. It teaches that, beyond the conventional perception that we are physical or even partly physical and partly spiritual, we are actually purely spiritual – each of us an individual embodiment of qualities of God such as stillness, wisdom, intelligence, and joy. We experience the fulfillment that God intends for us to the degree we express these and other divine qualities.

Thus, reality isn’t set up so that experiencing good depends on luck. Nor do we have to risk some good in order to possibly get more. In fact, the law of infinite good is always operating, always inviting us to experience God’s blessings by aligning our thought and daily living with good.

Christ Jesus, who understood perfectly God’s infinite goodness, said: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Another Bible passage emphasizes the constancy of good: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Many times in my own life I’ve found this concept of ever-present good to be dependable – when working through financial problems and relationship difficulties, overcoming illness, and so on. Also, from what I’ve seen, the excitement of betting doesn’t match the confidence, security, and fulfillment of worshiping one infinitely good God or the satisfaction one experiences when helping others. In fact, thinking of others can lift us above a limited sense of ourselves, enabling us to truly feel and act like free children of God.

So if someone we care about or we ourselves are addicted to sports gambling, can we find an answer? Yes! As with all addictions, this habit involves being fooled into thinking that a certain activity can give us a great feeling. And while it’s vitally important to have the greatest compassion for a person dealing with addiction, betting’s claims to offer deep satisfaction, excitement, or even relief are exposed as utterly bogus as we work to see more clearly that all good is already ours in our unity with Spirit, God.

In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man” (p. 393).

The desire to overcome betting shifts thought from hoping in chance to trusting in good. That desire is blessed by God. We may find our freedom comes all at once, or it may take more persistence if we find we have deeper lessons to learn about the reliability of God’s goodness.

Sports betting need not control us or the larger society. The infinite goodness of God, ever present for everyone, is not a gamble but an absolute certainty. Abundant blessings flow from trusting and showing forth that goodness.

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