Gambling or gaming: Entertainment or exploitation?

Abstract

The EIAG develops and co-ordinates ethical investment policy for the Church of England investing bodies through a process of research and consultation. This paper published by the Church of England states its position on gambling and policy. Conclusions : The gambling industry is very fragmented and the Ethical Investment Advisory Group examined whether a softening of the policy should be considered with a relaxation of investment in companies focused on soft forms of gambling. However, the Group concluded, on balance, that all gambling, both soft and hard forms, contribute to the social ills that result from severe addiction to the activity, and should therefore be avoided. The Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group believes there is a difference between the acceptability of the activity itself, versus the decision for the investment bodies not to take income from the activity. In this, the Group recognises that a few benefits may exist from certain forms of gaming, such as money for good causes through lotteries, bingo, tombollas etc, as well as enjoyable social occasions arising from racing events, or a night at the casino. However, the social ill consequently linked to gambling activities, particularly in relation to those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, is undeniable. Particular focus is given to those who see the National Lottery as the only way out of financial poverty and which may be viewed as a "reverse insurance policy". We argue that it would be unsuitable for the church's investment bodies to receive income from any activity wholly premised on the activity of gaining at someone else's expense, which may in turn fuel gambling related problems amongst the vulnerable and the young. With reference to the financial markets, the Group argues that investing for long term gain in stocks, shares, bonds and gilts does not constitute gambling in any form, but rather is consistent with good stewardship of God's gifts in the responsible ownership of assets.

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