Gambling: what does the Bible say about it?

Straight Talk

The Question:

What does the bible say about gambling?

– JR from Ohio

The Answer
Part 1: Gambling and the Bible

Gambling and the Bible (Part 1)

I like the straightforward way you ask your question. What does the Bible say about this subject—not, “is gambling wrong?” or, “Is it alright to play the lottery?” etc. I’ll try to be as straightforward in answering you.

Gambling isn’t mentioned in the Bible at all. There are no occurrences of it. Some mention “casting lots” as a possibility of speaking about gambling but that’s really not the same thing. Casting lots was commonly used in Bible times to make decisions; it was a way of inquiring of the Lord. For more information on this see Is Casting Lots Superstitious?

I’m not sure why you asked this question but others may wonder; in the absence of comment from God’s Word, how should we view gambling? There is a huge lottery system active today and there are plenty of casinos and opportunities to bet and wager on cultural events and sports. Can we participate or are we sinning if we do?

It would be difficult to arbitrarily draw a straight line from gambling to sin in all cases. Yet gambling can be sin based on the motivation of the gambler. For instance 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Few would argue that gambling is often rooted in the love of money.

Likewise, Ecclesiastes 5:10 speaks to the folly of riches as our source of happiness. “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” When we are looking for ways to get rich quick without time, discipline and labor we are being foolish indeed and will end up disappointed. Also, addiction to gambling is a real threat for many people who must absolutely avoid it 100%.

What should people ask themselves when considering whether it is permissible for them to gamble? Do I need this money for any other obligation? Will it matter if I lose it (which will surely happen)? Do I NEED to win? (Big problem). What is my heart toward money and things? How content and satisfied am I with my life just the way it is? Do I tend to have an addictive personality?

Honestly answering all those questions before proceeding will produce the wisest decision. And no matter how little the Bible has to say about gambling, it has plenty to say about treasuring wisdom!