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gambling and competition

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground…..        Genesis 4: 9, 10


It’s official. The States of Jersey had decided that Cain was wrong. He was his brother’s keeper. He was responsible for his brother and no amount of rhetorical questioning could avoid that issue.


Cain then had to give account for the fact that he had killed his brother.


The official confirmation about being keeper of my brother arose a month or two ago when the States of Jersey passed (subject to Royal Assent) the draft Gambling Commission (Jersey) Law 20--. A new body corporate will come into being called the “Jersey Gambling Commission” and, following Cain, will be obliged (“must” is the word used in the Law) to  have regard to the principle that any gambling services provided should be conducted .... with safeguards necessary to protect vulnerable people.”


So Jersey will look after vulnerable people – when it allows gambling to take place.


This is going to be expensive when it comes to Jersey allowing internet gambling – because anyone, anywhere, who connects to the internet will be able to gamble in Jersey.


How will Jersey protect “vulnerable people” in Bangladesh, Khartoum, Hong Kong and Qatar? Presumably reciprocal arrangements will be made with the Gambling Authorities in those and multitudes of other countries – just as Jersey has entered into reciprocal agreements in other areas like financial services regulation.


If not, we shall need to re-adopt Cain’s rhetoric and repeat (as loudly as possible), “am I my brother’s keeper?


The interesting thing about Cain was the reason why he was prepared to kill his brother. Knowing the reason may help the States of Jersey to decide whether, in its proposed new law due for debate in 2010, it should introduce into Jersey (into the whole world, in fact) internet gambling.


Cain’s story is that he was a grower when Abel, his brother, was a farmer. Cain’s problem was the same problem that every human being experiences – we are all competing with one another; we all desire to be the prize-winner, whatever the prize may be and in whatever field we play.


But top place this time went to his brother Abel. That made Cain angry inside. When he could not be seen by anybody he killed Abel. A tad excessive, you may feel. But it was one way of giving himself satisfaction. Doing something that should not be done was, in a word, pleasurable.


Yes, Alderney and Gibraltar are “ahead” of Jersey in the offshore internet gambling competition. We’re losers........


So let’s ....... Shall we?


The fact that lives and families will be destroyed in the process – without remedy because the Jersey Gambling Commission will not be there to help – makes it a bit more, well, pleasurable (if we “succeed”, which we will).


Given the desires in all of us, and if we are to live our lives on terms set by this world, competition is inevitable. And a won competition is great, cool, super - especially with the excitement of pushing the boundary a bit.


Jesus Christ of Nazareth did not wish to live that way. He was his brother’s keeper par excellence. He died through the envious anger of the leaders in his country. That envy killed him. They could not tolerate such a popular man – popular with the needy, the poor, the ill, with ordinary people.


Then he said to those who killed him that he had endured that death so that he would be able to forgive them – forgive his killers – if (only if) they turn to him.


Quite a contrast. Will you follow Cain? Or Jesus? Will the States of Jersey default on its commitment to be its “brother’s keeper” - worldwide?

The specific indictment of gambling … is that it is a … device for attempting to appropriate other people’s money … a person can only win if others lose. Success in gambling depends entirely on the failure of others … this is that which makes the practice so sordid and contemptible.’ (Fred Caddick)
‘I gave my life for thee, My precious blood I shed/ That thou might ransomed be and raised up from the dead./ I gave my life for thee, what hast thou given for me? (Frances Havergal, hymn writer, 1836-1859)
Richard Syvret

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