The Archdiocese of Córdoba on the gambling phenomenon in Argentina
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There needs to a distinction made between leisure activities, like those of recreation, sports and free time, and the harmful influence of gambling, especially in casinos. The latter, other than facilitating an addiction to gaming in general, “affects, above all, the poorest families, who see in it a magical solution to their economic problems, and the young, who remain ensnared by the egoism of an essentially individualistic game and one which attacks solidarity and the culture of work”. This is what was written, in a statement, by members of the Pastoral Social of the Archdiocese of Córdoba, in Argentina. They warn people of the grave consequences of the abuse of gambling and the use of “money-eating” machines, phenomena spreading every more widely in the South American country. A real issue – it states – in the agenda of election campaigns (Argentina’s presidential campaigns start in October), which the Archdiocese of Córdoba, in consonance with the Catholic Church in Argentina, wants to bring into discussion, “to talk about the harm that gambling and slot machines can cause in the life of citizens and their families”.
In the document, entitled: Construyamos una sociedad sana y digna, they bring to mind the different reflections already given on the subject by individual bishops, who pointed out with concern how the opportunity to gamble is increasing throughout the country (in both the private and public sectors), which may promote behavioral dependencies. “Let us note – writes Pastoral Social – that casinos, bingo halls, together with huge structures of slot machines, have flourished, in the poorest neighborhoods as well. Furthermore, the opportunity to place bets has grown in Lottery halls. At the same time, new forms of technology, like the internet, are giving rise to ever new and sometimes more vast forms of gaming”.
For the Church in Córdoba, it is important to speak without euphemisms: “Gambling is a business that moves large amounts of money to the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many, especially the poorest”. The State – the document underlines – “must guarantee the full protection of the family. Whoever develops a passion for gambling risks losing what belongs to his or her spouse or children. It is a fact that harms the family’s communion and often causes arguments, quarrels and accusations. And when the situation becomes uncontrollable, dependent behaviors are made manifest”. Ludomania (or ‘Problem gambling’) is “an emotional illness of a progressive kind”, which shares its root with other forms of addiction: Whoever suffers from this pathology – the document precedes – usually suffers from low self-esteem.
But as of many other questions regarding society, family, young people and the poor, Pastoral Social believes that “ it is through education, from school and in the family, and through the example of those who govern, that we succeed in avoiding the promotion of this type of activity, which does not have as its end the recreational aspect of man and the community, but rather ensures easy money and no risk for the companies that support it”.
And it is, furthermore, important to encourage sports activities among young people and children and initiatives for community centers in neighborhoods, so they can be used as “mechanisms of support and the aggregation of people” through music, theater, cinema and other forms of art. Not to mention the spiritual component, with the active and communal participation in preaching and other religious structures. These spaces are “more effective and sustainable in reaching the objective of giving dignity to the human being than the simplest and frequently inoperative prohibitions”.
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