A Monumental Gamble!

The Wyoming Lottery Board, branded as WyoLotto, held its first meeting in Casper, July 13, 2013. As designed, many now chase that elusive dream of being “wealthy.” They did recently reveal the CEO’s salary, after initially resisting. He already got a pay hike. However, it’s not out of line with many other states. Some call the Lotto “recreational,” and claim to spend only a pittance. We do know that too many spend money they can ill afford. That’s the purported unintended consequence. The narrative is that “if you have a gambling problem,” call the hotline. Ever wonder how many do? And who wants to admit that? Perhaps not until it’s too late. We have the liberty to be stupid at times.

HB 77, signed by Governor Mead, authorized the state to create a lottery. The bill sunsets after six years, which would require reauthorization to continue. Wyoming joined the ranks of 43 other states to establish their version of “mutually agreed theft.“ We’ll see if we can elect a slate of legislators who are smarter. Don’t “bet on it.”

Some states embraced the lottery as a “quick fix” for financial problems. Tennessee, for example, voted in 2002, for a lottery. And, as we’ve heard in Wyoming, that people go to an adjacent state to spend their filthy lucre. Like Colorado. Tennessee had to compete with Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri. Many claimed those states were “stealing their money.” Not everyone views the lottery in a positive light. The lottery, or gambling, goes against the moral persuasion of many. History is replete with the casualties of those with “new found wealth” finding themselves in bankruptcy, or worse. Time will tell. People are loquacious on the topic.

Not only can one lose money, but some will become addicted. Certain personalities are prone to addictive behavior. If it is, as many claim, a form of recreation, will it replace their former mode of recreation? That ultimately could impact that recreation sector. With limited expendable income, something has to go. Will other forms of entertainment suffer as a result of the lottery? It’s estimated that nearly twenty million citizens in the U.S. are problem or compulsive gamblers. At a minimum, gaming, wagering, or betting, in any form, is subject to a major step to negative social consequences. Those who support it find reasons Those opposed do too.

This isn’t, after all, a “risk free” world in which we abide. Some are calculated. Some of us are “risk aversive.” Only a small percentage of the population are extreme snow boarders, sky divers, or ride motorcycles. Boarding a plane, or driving in our neighborhood has risks. Even elective surgery is a risk. That’s why we sign a “release” before as a “formality.” Death is further down on the list. It’s there, however. Most know someone who didn’t survive a “routine surgery.” With pioneering advances in medical science, we’ve become nearly cavalier about facing death and beyond. We appear reluctant to inosculate life and death.

Eternity’s a breath away. Wise men have suggested that rather than avoid risks, to prepare for the inevitability of our demise. To not do so is the biggest gamble ever. One fraught with peril. Is this an age of miscreants? Recent surveys indicate otherwise. The majority of Americans believe in an “afterlife.” Evangelicals long to point the way. Jesus declared, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul.” A sobering warning from Scripture. In our increasingly secular world, too many are fearful to speak of such weighty matters, especially in the public square. Are we to remain silent at the risk of those who are perishing? Should we prevail with such a question? Legion are those who’ve opined perniciously, “Someday! “Someday!”

The average life expectancy has risen due to a variety of factors, including wiser lifestyle choices. However, that’s no guarantee. We’re mortified when a thirteen year old is stolen by a ravaging disease, or the onset of Alzheimer’s on an aging parent, who may be unable to decide what to wear, let alone eternal matters. Seems fool-hardy to count on life expectancy. At three score and ten your’s truly is cognizant of that fact. Where we spend eternity is a choice. We can’t choose the time, but we can, by faith, choose the location. Like few others, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” Sobering. No sentimentalism. Unvarnished truth. Freedom to choose. Timing is essential.

There are the scoffers, far too erudite to ponder such ethereal questions. They’ll gamble on it. Alas, they obsequiously remind us that the disciples “drew lots” to replace Judas. It wasn’t the lotto. Invoking His wisdom, they chose between two good men-ultimately adding Matthias to the twelve. Call it Divine odds. There’s a paucity of statistics regarding how many pray before shelling out for the WyoLotto. The odds are that number’s minuscule.

From a 401(k) to the choice of a design on the headstone, many assiduously plot and plan. Yet, on eternal matters many gamble with a baneful philosophy. It’s understandable how the view gets addled with “all that’s on our plate.” Convinced we’re too busy,unfortunately, many abdicate the eternal realm. Gambling on the lottery is earthly. This adjuration is not for the faint hearted. Flying on the “secular airlines express” may get you off the ground, but it will never land safely on the other side. We have the chance to sway the eternal, taking the “sting out of death.” One must ask, “Why wouldn’t one?” Caution ahead. The road’s narrow. What do you think?

Mike Pyatt is a Natrona County resident. His email is roderickstj@yahoo.com

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