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The Life Lesson I Learned from Watching the Fight to Expand Casino Gambling

Exterior of a casino lit up at night

Several weeks ago, in our staff devotional on Monday morning, we discussed the story of David and Goliath. While we were all familiar with the classic Bible story, our discussion centered around the historical and cultural details that reinforced just how little of a chance David stood against the giant Goliath. A young boy with a slingshot, taking on a nine-foot-tall warrior clad in armor with sword, spear, and shield. As we talked, we all kept reflecting on – what was then – our current “Goliath,” the incessant push by top legislative leaders, dozens of the state’s most powerful lobbyists, and the massive gambling industry to legalize commercial gambling casinos in North Carolina.

A recent report found that 38 gambling-related businesses and associations have paid more than 70 different lobbyists to advocate for gambling expansion in North Carolina. The same report found that people connected to gambling and marijuana donated over $500,000 to various legislative leaders this year. Interestingly, many donors had never given to a North Carolina campaign until now.

Just in the United States, the gambling industry saw almost $55 billion in revenue in 2022. Their resources are extensive, and the amount they stand to gain in North Carolina is substantial. Politically, they are a towering Goliath.

On the other side of the issue, those opposing the casinos are comparatively small in number. We do not have billions of dollars to throw at the issue, we do not have the big names or the social capital, and we refuse to play games or take shortcuts. We and those who work with us are like Davids, just a small group of people without fancy armor or weapons, but who are committed to using the tools God has equipped us with to engage in the battle.

After months of discussions, negotiations, and back-and-forth – most of which did not appear to be in our favor, it was announced that the expansion of gambling casinos in North Carolina would not be included in the state budget and would be dropped from consideration. Our collection of “Davids” had prevailed—at least for the time being.

Here’s what I learned from watching this battle to expand casino gambling: If God has called you to a cause, it doesn’t matter how many resources you have, how much experience you have, or how talented you are. What does matter is that you step up to the fight in the name of the Lord.

I have heard so many people dismiss their role in politics and public policy, wondering what just one person can do. And I get it. The government can feel like a Goliath, and trying to make an impact is intimidating. But God can take the actions of “just one person,” and multiply it over and over again to create a huge impact.

  • By “just one person” contacting their legislators through our Action Center, we collectively overwhelmed the gambling industry with grassroots activism.
  • By “just one person” showing up at a press conference, we had dozens of people from across the state holding signs protesting casinos and several people sharing their opinions from the lectern.
  • By “just one person” attending a meeting, hundreds of residents of Rockingham and Nash counties showed up at community meetings and commission hearings to make their voices heard.

We don’t know, and might never know, what tipped the political scales and caused the casino proposal to be derailed. Maybe it’s because of the rising pressure from North Carolina residents. Maybe the legislators realized just how much damage additional casinos could cause for North Carolina citizens. Maybe it’s something else entirely. But the important part is that individual citizens rose up and took action, and their combined efforts won the day. That is exactly how the American governmental system is designed to work best.

The Battle Doesn’t Stop Here

NC Family, together with many others, have accomplished a tremendous amount this session, from protecting women’s sports to expanding pro-life protections to stopping the expansion of predatory casino gambling. But this is not the end. A new round of issues will come up, and many of these issues will return. Whatever the case, as David did, we must continue to rise to the challenge.

Here are a few things you can do as you step up into the battle:

  • Vote. The easiest way to enact good legislation is to help ensure that good people are in office to support it. Elections are coming up quickly, so make sure to research each candidate at local, state, and national levels.
  • Contact your elected representatives. Many of you have diligently contacted your legislators through NC Family’s Action Center this year, and we are so grateful!
  • Pray about additional ways to get involved. If there’s an issue that you feel particularly called to, pray about other ways you can get involved. There are so many organizations that would love your help and participation.

In the words of Jack Kemp, “The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society.” Or as Dr. Seuss puts it, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” And in every situation, we need to come as David did, “in the name of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 17:45


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