No one likes an “I told you so.” But, for the record, “I told you so.” Not just I; but numerous pastors, ministers, church leaders, counselors, economists, expert policy analysts, legislators and other responsible civic-minded citizens all told you and state leaders that a state-sponsored lottery was irresponsible for the people of this state.
Forrest Claunch, former state legislator now on staff with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and leading proponent against a state sponsored lottery, said, “Government integrity is compromised as it competes with businesses for dollars, aggressively pursues and promotes the loss of money by citizens and puts itself in the role of economic predator.” (Is the Lottery a Good Gamble for Oklahoma? University of Central Oklahoma, Spring/Summer 2002, page 7.)
Now, the very state that preys upon its own citizens using our kids and their education as cover for promoting the so-called “Lottery for Education” has finally acknowledged as much, and the evidence goes far beyond a mere prediction of revenue shortfalls that the lottery will provide this next fiscal year. A simple search of the state’s main job Web site reveals the origination of a new state funded bureaucracy and an opening for a Coordinator of Problem & Compulsive Gambling, someone who shall be responsible for prevention and treatment of problem gambling in Oklahoma. The state is willing to initially invest nearly $57,000 on this position to address a “problem” that it created and promotes every day in our communities.
So while the mainstream media continue to emphasize the fissures between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, there exists a possibility of unity. The over promised, underperforming lottery is a failure. The lottery is failing to meet the needs of our students, failing to meet its revenue goals and failing Oklahoma families and individual citizens as bills go unpaid, kids go unfed and marriages deteriorate from the direct result of addictive gambling behavior. State leaders have abdicated their Constitutional responsibilities to protect, defend and provide for the general welfare of the citizens of this state, choosing instead to gamble on yours, mine and our children’s future. Their gamble is not paying off, and the state’s big pay day is not on the horizon.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. The state of Oklahoma, by using the most advanced marketing techniques and the continued enticement of better games and bigger and bigger payoffs, entraps its citizens and participates in the further erosion of the family and in the destruction of thousands of lives across our state.
However, there is great hope for abundant life in Jesus Christ. Jesus promised Christians in John 8:32 that, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” It is our job to continuously pursue opportunities to share the truth of God’s love with our friends and neighbors and pray that those in bondage will be truly set free.
Christians must recommit to engage in our culture, push back on destructive behaviors and promote positive alternatives. The Oklahoma lottery is one example of our need to place our trust in the Lord and in all ways acknowledge Him and let Him direct our paths as we work together to meet great challenges and pursue a better tomorrow for our state, nation and world. As Ecclesiastes 10:10 reminds us, “His wisdom has the advantage of giving success!”