The Wagers of Sin
The Steve Kuykendall Story
Prior to November 2003, I had never been much of a gambler. Oh, I had visited casinos while on vacation, but never won much. After relocating to the Dallas area, I soon discovered that Oklahoma, our neighboring state, had casinos. Out of curiosity I went one Saturday night, but left after 10 or 15 minutes, not having played anything. A couple weeks later, I returned, and this time with money. I played and won, but then I started losing. Shortly before 2:00 am, I was down to my last $8.00. I pushed the button on the $1 slot, wagering the maximum $5 per spin. To be honest, I didn’t care about the outcome, because I knew I was going home. As I watched, the reels spun and stopped, one by one: Double Jackpot, Double Jackpot, Double Jackpot-all in a row. I sat for a moment, then the machine flashed, “Claim.” After pushing the button, I sat in amazement as the winnings began to total: $100, $200, $300…$1000, $2000, $3000…$10,000! I couldn’t believe it! I won…big!
So excited that I couldn’t sleep, I called everyone I could think of to tell them about my win! It turned out to be one of the worst things that ever happened to me. Although I thanked God for what I believed was His blessing, I began a downward spiral into an all-consuming gambling addiction that would last seven years. During that time, I would do almost anything to get money with which to gamble, including spending rent money, lying to family and friends, selling my mother’s jewelry, borrowing to the limit on credit cards, taking out multiple high-interest payday loans, etc.
Even though I had known Jesus Christ as my personal Savior since 1980, the casino slots became the focus of my existence. Once in a while, I won, and I would praise God for His “blessing,” believing that with another win I would finally be free of the need to gamble again (I almost always went back the next day). Mostly, I lost, but each time I confessed my sin of gambling and asked His forgiveness.I also promised God that I would never gamble again; but as soon as I had more cash, I would go back.
During my seven-year gambling spree, I tried several recovery programs, attending one for over a year. However, nothing worked. I was desperate for help, in much debt, and suicide seemed like a way out.
Finally, one Friday evening in March 2010, I was planning to attend either a casino in Oklahoma or an RU Recovery meeting. I chose to go to RU. When I arrived, I sat in the back with my arms folded, not speaking to anyone. The Ten Principles video came on and I listened to testimonies. Then I went to the beginners group, keeping my head down the whole time. I called the RU director when I got home that evening and told him that I needed accountability. Within thirty minutes after that call, three different people from their chapter called me offering help and support! That was so encouraging! I was finally going to have accountability and the possibility of recovery!
I began attending the RU Recovery Program regularly on Friday nights. However, I was not yet working the program and would often go to RU with $100 or $200 in my wallet and go gambling as soon as the meeting was over. Finally, on Saturday, May 29, 2010, at 11:30 p.m., I surrendered to the will of God and walked out of the casino, determined to work the RU Recovery program from that moment. That was the last time I saw the inside of a casino or placed a bet of any kind.
The Word of God teaches, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). That’s what legalized gambling is – a way which seems to offer easy riches but ultimately leads to destruction. Jesus died on the cross to save us from the penalty of sin, not so that God would bless us while we engage in it. It is only through yielding to God totally that I have victory over “the wagers of sin.”
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