Today being the final game of the NCAA basketball tournament, I can’t help but wonder if President Hinckley’s recent remarks about gambling are relevant. I usually put down $5-10 in a pot (to make the tournament interesting, otherwise, it’s a long McDonald’s commercial). President Hinckley even went so far as to say (paraphrase), “I pay $5 to see a movie, I pay $5 to play poker. What’s the difference? They are not the same thing. The difference is that in poker you do not receive value in return.”
I sometimes get frustrated when the general authorities get into the specifics, rather than the principles. Don’t get me wrong, I fully condemn gambling as a principle. But what about the gray area? (I will now plaigerize myself from a comment I made here) Does this mean that I can no longer put $5 down on the NCAA Tourney? How about just betting someone $5 that their boss will yell by the end of the day? What about just betting the last slice of pizza that you’ll make this free-throw? What about just betting (for nothing) that you can jump higher than him? This sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not. And I’m not even playing the “a-lot-of-people-can-handle-gambling-without-getting-addicted” card (pun intended) that I suspect many people felt after the prophet’s discourse. Mine is not a question of “can I get away with it and still be righteous?” but rather “now that you’ve seemingly defined some a few lines, what about the rest?”.
President Hinckley’s fundamental objection to gambling (it does not offer a fair return in goods and services) is part of my problem. I find the entertainment of sitting around the table playing blackjack for quarters and dimes a VERY fair return. Whether it’s round pieces of metal or round pieces of metal traded in for little pieces of refined sugar which is then used as the currency for the game, it’s all the same to me. I understand he’s speaking about this because there are many out there who have a problem with it and it’s apparently ruining lives, but I’m a bit frustrated that I now need to question myself every time I say, “I betchya…” because a bunch of guys can’t get enough of Wendover.
Where does everyone else stand on this? I’d be interested to know if President Hinckley’s remarks have made enough of an impression that you will change your actions (no more penny-poker night with my pals, no more NCAA tournament, no more lottery tickets, etc.)