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Dear Gramps,

I have asked missionaries this question but I do not get a straight answer.  I am not Mormon, my wife is. I gamble and I say so does she. I play poker and other games at casinos and with friends. She on the other hand funds a 401K plan through work.  To gamble is : to bet on an uncertain outcome.  As we all know in these uncertan times, 401K plans can and do lose value.  So my question is if you fund a 401K or other investments with the hopes of a positive return, are you gambling?  Thanks for your answer.





Dear Eric,

There is a major difference between investing in one’s future and gambling.  Gambling is motivated by a desire to get something for nothing. This desire is spiritually destructive and dulls one’s spiritual sensitivity. It leads participants away from the Savior’s teachings of love and service and toward the selfishness of the adversary. It undermines the virtues of work and thrift and the desire to give honest effort in all we do. Jesus teaches us to give, while Satan advocates to take at any cost even to the point of force.  He says that it does not matter how we get something as long as we get it.  His whole plan is based on getting something and everything for nothing.  He even wants to take away our free agency, which is a gift from God, and force us to do his will.  Above all else, it is against God’s commandments.

Gambling is a game of chance where the winner is determined by a roll of the dice, the play of a card or the drawing of a number.  Nothing is produced.  There are always losers.  How else can casino owners continue to build larger and more elaborate casinos.  Why do they lure you there with an offer of free rooms, meals and entertainment.  It is because they know once they get you there, the vast majority of people are going to lose much more than what they are paying out.

While serving in the military in Germany,  I took care of the books for our local Rod and Gun Club.  We had a fully stocked store selling hunting, fishing, and camping equipment.  We also had a Snack Bar as well as a Liquor Bar with 10 slot machines.  These 10 slot machines made more money for the club than the rest of the operations.  Yes someone might have won $25 one evening, but 9 others lost that amount.  I don’t remember anyone ever saying that they were ahead over a given period of time, but I was well aware of many who lost over the same period of time.

Elder Dallin Oaks, one of the Twelve Apostles stated in a talk recorded in the June 1987 Ensign the following:

“Gambling tends to corrupt its participants. Its philosophy of something for nothing undermines the virtues of work, industry, thrift, and service to others. The seductive lure of a huge possible windfall for a small “investment” encourages participants to gamble with funds needed for other purposes, even the basics of food and housing. Gamblers commonly deprive themselves, they often impoverish their families, and they sometimes steal from others to finance their indulgence. We are all familiar with cases in which trusted employees have stolen from their employers, bringing tragedy upon themselves and their families. All too often this ruinous sequence is traceable to a desperate attempt to pay gambling debts or to finance further indulgence.”

Gambling is another cause of divorce and the breaking up of families.  It becomes addictive and those that become addicted to gambling lose control of their actions the same as those addicted to drugs and alcohol.  There are far too many stories of young people with brilliant minds, who do nothing else but sit in front of their computers playing poker.

When one invests in a 401K plan, they are investing a percentage of their earnings.  They can invest this in an interest bearing account which is guaranteed or they can choose to invest in something more speculative.  These funds are invested in to companies that are producing goods and services consumed by the public and provide jobs for additional people.  Though we are in a down market currently, in the past the market has always recovered and been positive over a certain period of time.  When you are gambling, the funds go from many pockets to one pocket with not chance of recovery.






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