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The morality of gambling

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Catholic Theological Society of America

Abstract

THE MORALITY OF GAMBLING IN suggesting a treatment of the morality of gambling, the Com- mittee on Current Problems recommended application of the general principles in concrete cases, rather than a mere statement of those general principles. In order to adhere to the recommendation of the Committee, the discussion, therefore, was guided along the lines of the civil laws enacted in respect to gambling. The opening question posed for discussion of the theologians in attendance regarded the right of the State to pass laws in restriction of gaming and gambling. It was generally agreed that the State has this right, that American jurisprudence argues well in its contention that the police power of the State may be exercised to preserve and protect public morals and since gambling can be injurious to the morals and welfare of the people, it has the power to restrict gam- bling, in fact the duty to do so. In entertaining this question it was acknowledged that the history of gambling and of gambling legis- lation in the United States of America disproves the idea that our laws curtailing the same are the results of an incorrect moral no- tion that there is an inherent wrong in gambling. It was rather recognized that such laws have been the result of experience with the evil effects of gambling on the common good, when gaming and gambling were wide open in our country. The discussion proceeded to consideration of different civil laws. The first type of law considered was that prohibiting in some degree casual or private wagering, betting and gambling. Such laws are found among the statutes of the penal codes of various states. There is no Federal law in regulation of private gambling except the Fed- eral Tax Law which makes gambling profits taxable, but losses non- deductible even when they exceed winnings. A strict view held that even these most stringent statutes, making private betting or gam- bling illegal and a misdemeanor would bind in conscience although only under pe

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