Question: Will one who works in a casino or the general betting industry create negative karma? Is it Right Livelihood, according to the Noble Eightfold Path?
Answer: The more directly involved in the promotion of facilitation of gambling one is, the more will there be negative karma created, as gambling (due to greed) is a cause of suffering for many, and only a source of (easily addictive) fleeting happiness for the relatively fewer who win occasionally.
In the Anguttara Nikaya (AN 5.177), the Buddha taught this, ‘Monks, these five trades ought not to be plied by a lay-disciple… Trade in weapons, trade in human beings, trade in flesh, trade in spirits [intoxicants] and trade in poison.’ Although trade in gambling was not listed by the Buddha as Wrong Livelihood, he did advise against gambling in the Sigalovada Sutta:
‘And what six ways of squandering wealth are to be avoided? Young man, heedlessness caused by intoxication, roaming the streets at inappropriate times, habitual partying, compulsive gambling, bad companionship, and laziness are the six ways of squandering wealth….
‘These are the six dangers inherent in compulsive gambling: winning breeds resentment; the loser mourns lost property; savings are lost; one’s word carries no weight in a public forum; friends and colleagues display their contempt; and one is not sought after for marriage, since a gambler cannot adequately support a family…
‘Seduction, gambling, drinking, singing, dancing, Sleeping by day, wandering all around untimely, Harmful friends, utter stinginess: These things destroy a person…
‘The reckless companion can be identified by four things: by accompanying you in drinking, roaming around at night, partying, and gambling.’
As such, aligned to the the spirit of the guideline that a livelihood is unskilful if it is connected to causing or supporting suffering, the gambling trade is not a skilful occupation – even if it might be generally less directly harmful than the classic five listed unskilful occupations. It is also noteworthy that though abstaining from gambling is not listed as one of the basic lay precepts, it is also generally discouraged due to the same reasons in the sutta.
There are many vocations within the gambling industry. Some might be closely linked to the promoting and facilitating of gambling. These jobs are the least skilful in the context. Some jobs might be less directly linked. For example, one might be a cleaner in a casino. Given a choice, it is more skilful to be as distant from the entire gambling trade as possible. Though some betting companies do some charity, surely, it would be even better if they do not encourage gambling in the first place.
Charity & Lottery?
Gambling or Investing?