How to avoid the gambling trap

I remember that as a little child I was taught the Plan of Salvation. It thrilled me to realize that if I wanted to get back to my Heavenly Father, all I had to do was follow the commandments. It seemed so simple. If you want to return to Him then follow Him.

Gambling is not on the list of things to do to get back to Him, if you listen to the prophets. I suggest the following:- Don't do it. Don't touch it. Don't even try it. That includes everything from the lottery to raffles to hard-core betting. Once you make the decision to never gamble, you don't hesitate when faced with temptation. Just decide now to not ever be involved in it. Someone asked me once if I was going to win the lottery. I told them, "Probably not, especially since I didn't buy a ticket."

Be an example. Parents should be an example of total avoidance.

Get help if you have a gambling problem, or urge someone you know to get help if he/she has a problem. It can be an addiction that is as difficult to get rid of as any other addiction such as to alcohol, pornography or drugs. - Paula Hunt, Nampa, Idaho

What we did:

Easier to avoid

Gambling, like any vice, is easier to avoid than to eliminate from our lives. With gambling, the odds always favor the house - often and almost always the chances of winning are practically nil. Our advice is do not start!

The counsel as given by our present-day prophets, as well as those in the past, is unequivocally, "Do not!" - Elder Bill and Sister Alice McCarl, humanitarian missionaries, Thailand Bangkok Mission

Like any temptation

I imagine gambling is like any other temptation - it has a grip on you that you feel is outside of your control. And it just may be outside of your control. But praying and reading the scriptures are not. Pick up your scriptures, open them and you will find the Holy Ghost there. Just as the Holy Ghost will not go with any one of us into a casino, evil spirits will not stay with any one of us if we are dwelling upon the word of God in any form, such as reading the scriptures, singing a hymn, praying, pondering the words of the prophets. - Marla Lay, Monarch Beach, Calif.

Fragile, flaxen cord

In our town, for simply cashing one's paycheck at a casino, prizes from free dinners to many thousands of dollars can be "won." Truly quality meals are provided at a cost that cannot be matched in any restaurant in town. Access to movie theaters requires the viewer to walk past long rows of slot machines and gaming tables. These appear to carry no risk.

One must understand that casinos are not in the business of giving away money and no promotion is entertained without the understanding that the bottom line will be greater revenue for the casino. Meals that are provided for a fraction of their market value, paycheck wheels where every spin wins a prize, theaters or shows that are accessed only after passing through the body of the casino are all designed to entice with what seems to be a fragile, flaxen cord, but strong cords are waiting in the wings. Recognizing the snare and avoiding any proximity to them is the only true protection even if a dinner out will cost more and be less frequent, movies and shows go unseen and prizes left unclaimed. - Mark Turner, Las Vegas, Nev.

Natural man

The secret to avoiding the gambling trap is the same as the secret for avoiding lust, anger, impatience and all other sins where the natural man is a dominant force in our lives. Putting off the natural man is a process that Mosiah addressed in the Book of Mormon. (see Mosiah 3:19.) We need to do the following:

Yield to the enticing of the Holy Spirit.

Become a Saint through the atonement of Christ. (Repent and be baptized.)

Become as a child: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love.

Doing these things will help us to have the strength to stay away from places where gambling is a temptation. - Richard L. Ricks, Springs, Texas

Stay away

To avoid any trap learn to recognize the signs, then stay away. Too often, we try to get as close to the traps as possible without getting caught in them. The idea behind learning to recognize the traps is to aid us in knowing which paths to follow to avoid them completely. As with many vices, gambling often begins innocently, such as just for fun, with a determined amount, a set length of time, a certain place or circumstance. But those ideas in themselves are a gamble with chance. How long will it be before we give in just a little bit, and a little bit more, until one day we discover that we have given in completely? To avoid the trap, learn to recognize it then stay away. - Rose V. Voigt, Marshall, Minn.

Be content

Regarding how to avoid gambling, Jesus gave this advice to a Roman soldier, "Be content with your wages." (Luke 3:14.) - Brad Tuttle, Lexington, S.C.

Focus on eternities

Gambling is an attempt to get rich quick while risking the family's financial and emotional assets.

My advice is the following:

Get professional counseling to aid you if you have this addiction.

Focus on the eternities. Relationships, if nurtured, go with you - riches don't.

Serve someone else to obtain the happiness you are missing.

Pray for guidance in your financial matters. - Name and location withheld

Owners profit

My husband, as a certified public accountant, has viewed the financial records of casinos and professional gamblers. He says it's crystal clear who really profits - the owners. Even professional gamblers lose more than they gain. The "lucky" person who wins has been handed a dirty present that was taken without being earned from all the other children of God who lost their money in the same process. - Mara Meservy, Las Vegas, Nev.

How to checklist:

1 Avoid gambling completely; decide this early in your life.

2 Live the gospel; praying, reading scriptures invites Spirit, which brings strength. 3 Don't get caught up in gambling's promotions; revenue is still the bottom line.

4 Get help if you have a gambling problem.

Write to us:

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Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid seasonal depression," "How to make a will that will foster love, not jealousy, between children," "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents," "How to plan ahead for the different stages of life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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