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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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March 11, 2008

Who's responsible?

In The Chicago Sun Times, columnist Richard Roeper comments on the lawsuit a woman filed against six Atlantic City casinos because they allowed her to gamble when she was in the clutches of a “hardcore gambling addiction.” She said: “They knew I was going for days without eating or sleeping. ... I would pass out at the tables. They had a duty of care to me. Nobody in their right mind would gamble for four or five straight days without sleeping.”

Roeper admits an “addiction to gambling can destroy a life with as much ferocity as an addiction to drink or drugs.”

But he thinks her lawsuit should be thrown out: “You have a 'duty of care' to yourself. You’re responsible for yourself. Yes, someone there should have tried to dissuade the woman from gambling if she was an obvious wreck. Offer to get her a meal, try to talk to her, tell her to get some sleep, and come back and hit the tables. I’ve seen that happen at casinos. But the idea that THEY’RE responsible for her losing her money? No sale.”

Is personal responsibility something people jut don’t gamble on these days? Or should we help a neighbor in need?

For a six-session study on gambling, see the ELCA Web site.

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