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Seminary Board Statement on local casino development,          May 2005

News release



Gambling -- Some notable resources

Adjunct faculty member, Dr. William Buckley, provides perspective on theological issues and policy considerations on gambling and its expansion.

William Joseph Buckley MA, PHD (University of Chicago)

Georgetown University School of Medicine,
        Center for Clinical Bioethics Washington, DC
Lutheran Theological Seminary-Gettysburg, Adjunct Faculty

SUMMARY/OVERVIEW: Detailed links below review many items; state by state links as well as the conflicted status of Lutheran/Catholic teaching and practice; e.g.

1. Audience of opponents, history, policy debates and evolution of Lutheran teaching 2. Gaming Industry
3. Educationalizing efforts
4. Canada Links
5. Anti gambling links
6. Tuttle mss
7. Relevant Catholic Teachings
8. Conflicted Current Catholic Practice
9. Ethics of Gambling Research
10. Selected (Annotated) Bibliography


1.1. AUDIENCE: What your opponents have data to show: PA gaming revenue is currently being spent in Delaware: Among the obvious fallacies is that said revenue will inevitably be spent on gaming, that said gaming revenue does not generate commensurate social costs, etc. (See data below)

1.2. HISTORY: Best historical overview of lotteries and state fiscal policy:

1.3. POLICY DEBATES use two categories of discourse: utilitarian (social costs/benefits) and "more than utilitarian" considerations (rights, duties, obligations, principles [autonomy, justice, respect, nonmaleficence], care). Most actual debates criss-cross the categories and add considerations of personal virtue/vice as a civic costs (e.g. addiction).

1.4. PARADIGM CHANGE AND EVOLUTION OF LUTHERAN TEACHING: eclipse of gambling as proscribed/circumscribed vice to gaming as socially beneficent family entertainment coincides with government advocacy of gaming as revenue enhancer. The power of the gaming industry in merchandising gaming as (socially harmless) entertainment and the increasing role of government in gaming are both reflected in two Lutheran documents. Your 1999 ELCA statement on gambling ( shares noteworthy affinities but instructive differences with two (Missouri Synod) Lutheran Church of Canada documents (1990, "The Moral Status of Gambling"; 1996


1.4.1. CONFINE PROSPECTIVE PROBLEMS TO PERSONAL BEHAVIOR: As with certain conflicted Catholic documents described below, the Canadian documents are especially intriguing in that their rhetorical efforts to largely confine problematic issues to individual behaviors of addiction.

1.4.2. NEGLECTS SOCIAL POLICY: This represents a tacit endorsement of the gaming as socially beneficient entertainment argument, while marginalizing larger social policy issues of just taxation, fiscal responsibility, elaborated in the ELCA text, etc.

1.4.3. NARROWLY CONFINE ARENA OF TRADITIONALLY PROSCRIBED BEHAVIOR: Thus both ELCA and Canadian documents each narrowly defines pernicious gambling (to exclude a potentially proscribed range of capitalist behaviors such as investments). Some might charge that the Canadian document has been conned by pro-gambling fiscal arguments. Note how the Canadian document largely reframes the issue subsequent to government involvement in gaming. That is to say, the text urges caution against abusive individual behavior (grounded in religious convictions drawn from scriptural claims based on both of Luther’s catechisms about trust in God) but it ultimately refrains from legalisms that would condemn all gambling.

1.4.4. ALTERNATIVE FRAMINGS OF THE PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE: On the one hand, the ELCA text frames the policy choices in a framework of personal civic virtues and social policy choices about responsible resource use as an issue for public policy debate. On the other hand, the Missouri Synod Canada document, despite welcome cautions, attenuates the social policy cautions about gaming to issues of private virtue (and vice) thereby deferring to matters of individual decision (a classic courtesy to state as a economic agent marketing this new business of entertainment).

1.4.5. ASSUME THE RISK IS SHARED: As in medieval and scholastic debates about usury, many endorsing socially beneficent gaming underplay its real costs or emphasize how the risks are shared, hence presumptively more equitably distributed personally, locally, nationally (Noonan, The Scholastic Analysis of Usury, 129, 195, 281-283)

1.4.6. NEGLECT LONGTITUDINAL DATA: Long term data suggests "gaming fatigue" among the general population and that gaming is not a stable source of revenue for public projects.

1.4.7. HISTORICALLY CONTESTED POLITICAL ISSUE: ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN THE ECONOMY: Historic and contemporary debates about the role of government and the economy between the range of liberalisms (classical laissez faire, new deal, progressives) and conservativisms ( the religious right, new right, neoconservativism), no less than the range of radicals, reactionaries, moderates and pluralists. (Taking Sides Clashing Views on Political Issues George McKenna, Stanley Feingold (McGraw Hill, 2006)

1.4.8. TASK AHEAD: NEXT PHASE OF Historic Lutheran Shift: From historic Church-State Separation to Functional Interaction. Is role of civic engagement by a public church robust enough to engage commercialized economic forces of state endorsed socially beneficient gaming? (Possibly: Stumme, Simpson; Unlikely, Miller). The functional interaction of Church and state, and government and economy at least since the depression has dramatically changed the assumptions of some historical religious writings about Church-State separation that assumed little or no state involvement in economic life. The public church posture of ELCA documents has as one task to make common cause with civic groups in publically convincing language to either prevent or to intervene to (as in Canada) shape/humanize the "socially beneficial" gaming arguments. John R. Stumme, A Lutheran Tradition on Church and State , 51-73 Church and State: Lutheran Perspectives, edited by John R. Stumme and Robert W. Tuttl e (Minneapolis, Fortress, 2003)ISBN: 080063604X ;Toward a Lutheran "Delight in the Law of the Lord:" Church and State in the Context of Civil Society by Gary M. Simpson 20-50 Church and State: Lutheran Perspectives, edited by John R. Stumme and Robert W. Tuttle (Minneapolis, Fortress, 2003)ISBN: 080063604X Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (Hardcover)Continuum International Publishing Group (November 2003) Language: English ISBN: 0826415318

1.5. CONFLICTED STATE OF CURRENT CATHOLIC PRACTICE: From prohibition of gam(bl)ing for Catholic Church fundraising (in Newark and Chicago), to ecumenical public advocacy opposition (in Massachusetts) to promotion of charitable gaming (Kentucky Bishops), to warnings about social costs among Asian communities (Jesuits). (details below)


dated but still valuable state by state links at:

Also see Institute for Study of Gambling/Commercial Gaming: University of Nevada/Reno: (very useful weblinks)


4. CHECK WITH CANADA and Canadian ECC for policy statements. (Canada seems to more effectively humanize gaming than USA) "Moral Status of Gambling"


National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

for LINKS, see





6. ROBERT TUTTLE, authored the 1998 guide "Gambling: A Study for Congregations" used by 11,000 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is on the board of the Division for Church in Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Social Teachings: (A former student argues that Gambling threatens civic virtue by neglecting associated vices and underappreciating corresponding fiscal responsibilities)



8. CONFLICTED CATHOLIC PRACTICE: Range of Roman Catholic practice: From prohibition (Newark and Chicago), advocacy opposition (Massachusetts) to promotion of charitable gaming (Kentucky Bishops)

8.1. STRICT AND EXPLICIT PROHIBITIONS OF GAMBLING FOR CHURCH FUND-RAISING: for 50 years the Diocese of Newark has consistently opposed games of chance for fund-raising:

Since at least 1979 in Chicago:;

8.2. ECUMENICAL ALLIANCES TO OPPOSE GAMING in public and proposed expansions: e.g.;;

8.3. SOCIAL BENEFITS OF EXPANDED CHARITABLE GAMING, BAN PROFESSIONAL GAMBLING (presupposes economic shift from gaming to entertainment):

Kentucky Catholic Bishops: Expand charitable gaming, ban professional gambling






Ethical Analysis of Online Gambling:


Lotteries and State Fiscal policy:

Economic Research: Fdereral Reserve Bank in St. Louis: fiscal policy and gaming:

CASINO Gambling Data:

Annotated Bibliographies on Gambling:

The Gaming Industry: Introduction and Perspectives (Hardcover) [Tory history by industry advocates] by 1. International Gaming Institute (Corporate Author)

Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 19, 1996) Language: English ISBN: 0471129275

Cutting the Wire: Gaming Prohibition And the Internet (The Gambling Studies Series) (Hardcover) by 1. David G. Schwartz coordinator of the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

University of Nevada Press (September 2005) Language: English ISBN: 0874176190 1.

Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise (Hardcover) by 1. Steven Andrew Light, Kathryn R. L. Rand University Press of Kansas (September 27, 2005) Language: English ISBN: 0700614060 1.

Gambling in America : Costs and Benefits (Hardcover) Social Costs generally outweigh benefits.

by 1. Earl L. Grinols

Cambridge University Press (January 12, 2004) Language: English ISBN: 0521830133

Sucker's Progress: An Informal History of Gambling in America (Paperback) by 1. Herbert Asbury Thunder's Mouth Press; Reprint edition (March 2003) Language: English ISBN: 1560254955