Saturday, May 07, 2011

Keep on blowing up the pokies

Andrew Cameron and Rebecca Belzer have put together another excellent piece of research and commentary on an Australian social issue. This one is about the reform of gambling laws relating to poker machines, a topic I discussed briefly back here.

There is a more recent briefing offering some reflections upon the killing of Osama bin Laden through a just war lens, though it is not yet available on the website. I'll update this post with a link when it is. now available here.

These Social Issues Briefings come out at (semi-)regular intervals. Each is two or three pages of well-researched information and Christian analysis of a topical Australian social issue with links to further information. The back catalogue is here and you can sign up to the email list here.

Andrew has recently published a book called Joined-up Life: a Christian account of how ethics works, which I highly recommend. I am intending to post a brief review sometime in the next few days when I get a chance.


byron smith said...

MPJ reflects on Oz gambling culture.

My comment:
The Australian culture of gambling is a blight and contributes to social injustice and many personal tragedies.

Some stats might help your case here, Michael. Australians are the world's largest per capita legal gamblers:

Nonetheless, I'm not convinced that every instance of gambling is a sin. I too would be disappointed with a guess-the-jelly-beans-in-a-jar getting banned. I think I'd see it more like alcohol: abuse is widespread in the culture and brings grave social ills, yet abuse doesn't remove proper use. If we rule out every game of chance as sin, then we're condemning most board and card games. Even if we restrict our concern to instances where money changes hands on the basis of chance (and so rescue the jelly bean game from wowserism), then we run into trouble with defining what degree of chance is problematic. Poker involves plenty of skill. The stock market involves plenty of chance.

Chance is a fact of life (or rather, the limits of human knowledge and foresight that render most of the details of the future inscrutable). What is problematic is when we come to trust in chance and make it a way of life, or a way of earning a living (or losing a living).

My wife doesn't like that Freedman song because it is a reworking of another Sydney musician's tune (she really likes the other song). I love it and think it is one of his best.

byron smith said...

Holy Rollers trailer.

A film about Christian card counters.

byron smith said...

The Conversation: Gambling, children and advertising.