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Gambling — The good, bad and the ugly

Posted on January 3, 2017 by Sunny South News

Gambling — good, bad or impartial? There’s casinos, bingo, lottery tickets, raffles, draws, video games and VLTs. Schools do it, churches do it, groups do it and individuals do it of all ages, all religious affiliations, and from all walks of life.
Some of the money made off of gambling pays for many community, provincial and federal projects too. Some gambling funds allow organizations to flourish in times of need. Some gambling funds help out non-profits to help others, but gambling sometimes gets out of hand for some. But, so does alcohol, cigarettes, Netflix, Facebook and every other addiction out there.
Gambling, the debate, has been a part of civilized society or uncivilized society (depending on your preference) for a very long time. Just like liquor prohibition before it, gambling (in some forms) has been prohibited in southern Alberta communities including Coaldale.
VLTs are once again ringing and dinging their way into the spotlight. Many people had no idea VLTs were outlawed in Coaldale establishments and in other communities throughout Alberta. Some southern Albertans are a little disappointed VLTs may make a return and are back in the limelight.
There are supposed moral dilemmas, religious objections and societal reasons gambling is opposed by some. While gambling to others is just another day of business or entertainment and some of the funds raised help out communities. Some will say gambling is a negative in a community and creates many negative social issues, which outweigh the positives and vice versa. But, VLTs are only one form of gambling being discussed, for the most part.
What about the little old lady with her dabber who enjoys a night out at a bingo parlour in the big city? Or the turkey bingos many community groups put on each and every year as fundraisers? What about the raffles, 50/50 draws and other draws groups and organizations have in order to raise funds? Or the corner store that sells lottery tickets of all shapes, sizes and denominations?
Just like any other vice in society that may cause damage to those that abuse it — gambling is no exception. Yes, gambling can cause societal issues, but so can watching too much TV or eating junk food for every meal, or being in dysfunctional relationships, or being too religious or addicted to losing weight. Addiction can be detrimental to anyone who allows it to control one’s life.
A responsible citizen can hopefully make the right choices in life. But, we all falter sometimes to some degree and that is OK. Moderation is good in anything.
There are laws created to help moderate our lives to hopefully make it better and there is of course common sense. But, we as responsible citizens, should be able to make choices. We can choose to walk into an establishment and throw a few bucks into a machine and maybe make a few bucks. We can choose to have a few drinks at a local pub and walk home or catch a ride from a friend, family member or take a cab. We can choose to eat better and get exercise. We can choose to limit the amount of TV or online hours we put in.
It all comes down to choice. The right to choose, anything in life, is what gives us one of the greatest gifts of all — living in Canada and being Canadian.

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