Q. What should gambling establishments do with their profits?
A. This question involves several moral problems:
1. Should there be gambling establishments? Jewish ethical teaching would say no. The Mishnah strongly disapproves of the m’sachek b’kuvya, the professional or compulsive gambler. Such people are not using their time constructively, they are endangering their own and their family’s stability, and their willingness to take risks with their money may lead them to take risks with the truth. Hence any establishment that panders to or encourages professional or compulsive gambling escalates the problem.
2. How can we encourage people away from over-the-top gambling? By offering a wider range of leisure-time activities in every sector of society. By educating people to see the problems created by gambling. By helping addicts break loose from a gambling compulsion.
3. For so long as gambling establishments exist, how can they use their profits responsibly? By being open to the needs of the health, welfare and educational sectors of society, and giving them as much support as possible. Some governments prefer to tax gaming profits in order to fund health or other causes. Such policies have their attractions, but it is surely better for gambling and other institutions to show their own sense of community responsibility without needing a sword on their neck.