Is it a sin to win a lottery?
Be a Christian and play the lottery
It is the license to dream - people have been fascinated by games of chance for centuries. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, millions of people take part in the state lottery draws every week. Even with a small stake, you have the chance of a big win. But what does the church actually say? Is it ethically and morally okay to gamble for money? Are Christians allowed to gamble? Exactly this question is being discussed at the 101st Katholikentag in Münster on the initiative of the Düsseldorfer Kreis, an association of those responsible from gambling providers, addiction support, science and advice.
Dr. Klaus Winterkamp (52), cathedral capitular at St. Paulus Cathedral in Münster, has an unequivocal answer. “Yes, definitely,” says the clergyman. “Playing in very different forms is part of life and is even important and instructive for us. If certain rules of the game are observed and general conditions are observed, there is nothing against trying your luck at lotteries, for example. ”In an interview with WestLotto, the cathedral chapter explains exactly what relationship the church has to gambling.
WestLotto: Dr. Winterkamp, what does the church have in common with gambling?
The Church has always held lotteries of its own. For example, there were cathedral lotteries in various dioceses after the Second World War, with the help of which funds were generated for reconstruction and to support good causes. To promote social causes, various Church organizations receive funds from stakes in state lotteries.
Even the Pope organizes its own lottery every year, in which people from all over the world can play. Have you ever bought a ticket?
No, not yet. But I try my luck every now and then, like many others, at the normal lottery. I am also passionate about playing Doppelkopf. This is of course a lot of fun when there is also something to be won, i.e. money.
What is the general meaning of “playing” in our society?
It is part of it from childhood and is also an integral part of faith. We are all children of God. From the theological point of view, we can playfully be there before God. It's a great privilege.
What does that mean? Does this also include participation in games of chance?
The Catholic Church is not a prohibition church that wants to forbid something to people across the board. As long as the game is about having fun, there are no restrictions. It becomes ethically questionable when it comes to exempting the other with left-wing methods or putting people in a precarious position. As with many other beautiful things in life, the dose is also decisive. That is why prevention and protective measures are so important.
A strict ban on gambling, for example, would not be beneficial either, as this shot is guaranteed to backfire and activities would only shift to a gray or black market. But that doesn't mean that everyone can do what they want. It's a matter of regulation.
What role do norms and values play?
There are definitely ethical limits that must be respected. If vendors are just geared towards getting the money out of their pockets and willing to encourage addictions, that's definitely not okay. The church is clear about this in its moral teaching.
In some countries, saints are included when it comes to predicting the correct lottery numbers, for example. How does belief affect happiness?
Certainly lotteries are often associated with very great personal beliefs, especially when it comes to the selection of numbers. The church faith itself has no meaning for gambling. No saints can help either. I don't play Doppelkopf better or have any luckier lotteries because I am involved in the Church. That is and remains a coincidence.
The gaming market is growing rapidly, the range is getting bigger and bigger. You can see that not only in the large number of betting shops in the city, but also in the internet, where new providers keep pushing their way onto the market. Do you see challenges in this development?
These offers often carry the risk that they appeal to gullible people who hope to make the quick fortune. If you play on this keyboard and allow yourself to be played, there is a risk of improper use of the offer. Caution is required. The internet doesn't stop at borders or nations, so clear guidelines are important.
In your opinion, does anything have to change in the status quo?
This is of course not a matter for the church, but politics should intervene. In many places, more stringent regulation would certainly be appropriate to protect consumers.
The Düsseldorfer Kreis advocates consumer protection-oriented gaming regulation for Germany. What do you make of it?
Especially when we think of some less reputable providers on the market, this approach is exactly the right one. With all areas that gambling includes and with scientific support.
What role does trust in a provider play in this?
Trust is the foundation of every relationship. To God too. Trust is what our faith lives on. As Christians we trust that God means well for us and wants the best for me and my life. With this basic trust in God and Jesus Christ, we can let go.
You have just mentioned that the Church also benefits from money from the state lottery companies. What does the collaboration look like?
We deliberately do not just work with any provider in the gaming sector, but only with the state lottery companies, because we can rely on the greatest possible degree of security and transparency. This is also important because this collaboration always serves a good cause. Last but not least, we use the money in the charitable area of the church, for example at Caritas, also for prevention purposes and in addiction support.
Why is prevention important?
Prevention is not only important in the area of addiction, but also in many other areas of life. If we take precaution and do not only intervene when something has happened, we will save ourselves many social problems and negative consequences for those affected in the long term. That is why we have to inform, take precautions and do a lot of prevention work.
Invitation to a panel discussion
Are Christians allowed to gamble? Is it morally and ethically acceptable to gamble for money? And what does the church say about it?
These questions will be discussed by high-ranking representatives from politics, business, addiction research, welfare and the church at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the 101st Katholikentag 2018 in Münster.
When and where?
The panel discussion “Are Christians allowed to participate in gambling?” Will take place next Friday, May 11th, from 2pm to 3.30pm in room 1 of the Liudgerhaus (Überwasserkirchplatz 3) in Münster. Admission is free.
State Secretary Nathanael Liminski, Head of the NRW State Chancellery
Josef Leenders, cathedral capitular at St. Paulus Cathedral in Munster
Andreas Kötter, managing director of WestLotto
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Bühringer, addiction researcher
Verena Fieke, qualified social pedagogue at Caritas advice for gamblers
Thomas Seim, editor-in-chief of Neue Westfälische
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