What is it that makes gambling so addictive? What strange force makes otherwise rational people wager their car, house, or life savings for the chance of winning big? And what makes the gambling winner almost immediately put his winnings back into the system in pursuit of an even bigger win? The actions of a gambling addict suggest that he values the act of gambling more than the prize he wins. It seems that he loves the chase.
I believe gambling is addictive for many people because risk-taking is a necessary and healthy part of relationship with God. As spiritual beings, we were made to gamble. We need to take risks. A life without risks, a life where you never “put yourself out there,” is a boring life. It lacks the spark of the life lived for something greater than yourself. Deep within you is a longing to risk it all for the sake of your soul. You want to live a life that’s worth risking your life for.
But there is another part of us, our ego, which prefers safety over risk. We try to think our way around life’s risks. We want to know the end result before we act. The problem is that there are some things we are asked to do in life where we can’t be sure of the final result before it happens. Forethought and logic are valuable tools of the mind, but they have their limits. At some point we are all challenged to let go. We have to step over the boundary of the known into the unknown if we are to achieve our deepest potential.
The addicted gambler experiences the reality that something is missing from his life. What is missing is an authentic relationship to his own soul. Instead of betting his life on God and the attainment of his destiny, he bets material possessions for more material possessions. The gambling instinct has been corrupted and has lost its true goal.