Is It a Sin for a Christian to Gamble?

by Jack Wellman on November 17, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

Is gambling a grey-area matter for believers?  Is the Bible silent about gambling?  Is it a sin for Christians to gamble?

Is Gambling  a “grey area” for Believers?

I had a job opportunity that would have been just 8 minutes from my home in cleaning services.  At present I work almost an hour away from home.  This job would have been at a new gambling casino that is opening up.  It would have been much closer to home and it would have been more convenient and easier to travel to and to work at.  The pay would have been comparable to my present job but I would have made money based upon the savings in fuel in driving to work in the next city.  However I thought it was not appropriate for me to take a job at a casino since I am a pastor and so I turned it down.

Is It a sin to Gamble

Is Gambling a Sin?

In my research about areas that have casinos, I discovered that the crime rates go up exponentially.  Those areas close to gambling or gaming centers have experienced skyrocketing divorce rates.  Also bankruptcies increase, drug and alcohol abuse goes up, and state and social services have a greater burden placed on them.  There is also the need for more police protection as well.  The number of gambling addictions increases too.  Therefore, it appears gambling centers and casinos, while bringing in revenue, also bring in crime, drugs, and sometimes even organized crime. I  feel strongly that a Christian should not gamble.  To try and win money at the expense of others (who pay for lottery tickets for example) seems wrong.  Gambling and gaming centers or casinos are in the business of making money.  There will always be more losers than winners, otherwise they would go out of business.

The local town that has invited the casino to build near us was welcomed with open arms – by the community and by the city officials.  This was due to the economic problems the area has experienced.  The casinos promised new jobs, increased county and city money, and new businesses.  The new businesses were good and so was the new tax money coming in, but the results of having more bankruptcies, more crime, and even a higher rate of suicide is the unpleasant result that gambling centers will never mention when they plan to build in your area.

Is the Bible Silent about Gambling?

The Bible is silent on this but I don’t believe it is a grey area.  The one time gambling is mentioned in the Bible was for an evil purpose.  It was when the Roman guards gambled over Jesus’ garment at the crucifixion (John 19:23-24).  I personally think it is wrong but if you buy a “scratch ticket” for a dollar or two once in a while, that may not seem bad, but add that up in a year’s time and it can be a substantial amount of money.  Also, the money used for gambling by a person may take away money for homes and families.  It has been known to literally take food out of the mouth of children.  I have read of many peoples lives being wrecked by gambling and powerful addictions to gambling take people over and ruin their life.  The odds are you will lose since casinos and lotteries are in the business of making money and so this seems, to me at least, to be a lose-lose situation.

There are no Scriptures that actually say, “Thou shalt not gamble” but there are Scriptures about coveting and lusting after something that is not ours.  To covet money is sin.  To lust after something that you want and do not have is to not be thankful to God for those things that you do have.  Jesus said you can not serve both money and God.  Luke 16:13 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Is it a Sin for Christians to Gamble?

Remember that Jesus also said, where your treasure is at, there is where your heart is (Luke 12:34).  Evangelist Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge Ministries once said that you can tell where a believer’s heart is at by looking at the checkbook ledger or by their credit card statements.  Does the Christian spend little money on charities, on giving to the church, in helping the poor – or do they spend the majority of their money on themselves?  The Bible seems clear that where the money goes, the heart follows.  First Tim 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

The book of James has much to say about money in James 2:5-7, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? “

Second Corinthians 8:9 has Paul declaring that “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”  Proverbs 13:11 states “money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Money on this earth will decay, be eaten by moths, or even be stolen, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”(Matt. 6:20).  Money has a tendency to change a person and can easily corrupt them.  Money, while not the root of all evil, can be the root of all kinds of evil. James understood this and wrote, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

Gambling is a lose-lose situation in my opinion.  It can be expensive, it can be addicting, and it can wreck lives and homes.  It is just not worth the risk. If anyone wants money, then I believe that they should do it the old fashioned way -work hard for it.  God is generous to those who give.  Interestingly, the more generous you are, the more God gives back to you.  Malachi 3:10 tells us to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

JD January 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

The Tithe was never money.

Reply

Jack January 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thank you for you comment JD. I appreciate your visiting us here. By the way, I never said that the tithe was money anywhere in this article…however, the tithe was money in the strictest sense since in the Old Testament the 1st tenth of their agricultural or livestock was their tithe. Their wealth was in their produce or livestock.

Today we use money instead of produce or livestock and the principle still applies…not that tithing is required since that is legalistic but I remember Abraham giving a tenth to Melchizedek and people putting money into the temple treasury. The point of this article is that gambling is not biblical.

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Shelley February 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

We are Christians raised southern Baptist. And my husband thinks gambling if you go 1 or 2 times a year is just for fun and intertainment
And he justs plays so much money and it just for fun. But I feel that guilty when I do it. What do to think?

Reply

Jack Wellman February 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hello Shelley. Thank you so much for visiting our website. And thank you for this question. It is not I who believe that gambling is wrong but the principles of the Bible teach that it is taking money away from family, coveting something that a person doesn’t have, and the winnings (if they do come), are actually at the expense of others (who have played and lost). To gamble is to condone it and the number of times a person does gamble doesn’t make it any less wrong and even if it is for fun and has only so much money set aside for it, everything that is fun and setting aside so much money for it doesn’t make it right either. These are a person’s way to justify their actions. There is a risk of gambling addictions which are significant, particularly if a person wins. There is something that happens to a certain place in the brain, just like drug addicts, porn addicts, and alcoholics, that it stimulates and gets a person hooked.

Saying that, you can not change your husbands behavior. This is something that only the Holy Spirit can do. Trying to change a spouse only makes them more resistant. You can only pray that it ends and refuse to go with him in your belief that it is wrong. You feeling guilty is, I believe, a work of the Holy Spirit telling you it is wrong. I was raised Catholic but actually ended up a Southern Baptist (my wife was already a member and our town didn’t have a Catholic church) and so I too feel it is wrong. Let us know if we can do anything else for you, i.e., pray for you and your husband and thank you again for your question and visiting us Shelley.

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Sarah November 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Hello Jack,
Thank you very much for your article on gambling; I absolutely agree that it is wrong, and the scriptures are very clear on this. I also agree with you that it is NOT a grey area. Many people justify gambling as just going to “have fun”, but little by little they find themselves becoming addicted and slowly lured in, and unable to break free. God blesses us with the ability to make money by working at a job. And if we are in trouble financially, we should trust Him to help us out. My x-husband’s Father used to go to the race track every week and bet on the horses. His life was completely controlled by this habit and addiction. It was a vicious cycle with him and he put a lot of time into it, only to loose more money than he won. It was sad because he had nothing to show for it at the end of his life. I couldn’t even spend $20 on gambling, because I look at that as gas money, groceries, school clothes for my daughter, etc. Money that I worked hard for. Near where I live they are considering bringing in a gambling casino to help bring in more revenue for the area, but it scares me to think about the possibility of increased crime, drugs, bankruptcy, etc., as mentioned in your article. I did not think about that but its so true. On Election Day I am voting against “Question 7″ (regarding casinos and gaming, etc). Thank you again for your article; I was really blessed by it.

Reply

Jack Wellman November 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Wow Sarah. Thank you so much. We have had the new casino in our area for about 2 years now…and here are the cold facts (which I tried to educate those about):

Bankruptcies, more than quadrupled,
Divorces more than tripled,
Spousal abuses, 5 x higher,
Tax delinquencies 13 times higher,
Foreclosures exponentially growing,
DUI/DWI’s skyrocketing,
Burglaries rapid growth,
Auto accidents (from alcohol likely) more than 5 times higher,
etc…and all factual from our local papers validated in the police and sheriff’s report and in the local business sections. Glad we have common sense Christian women like you. I pray it fails.

Reply

Francis Light June 11, 2013 at 5:34 am

dear Pastor can winning gambling lottery money give to church tithes of offering

Reply

Jack Wellman June 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hello Francis….gambling is sin and I can not imagine God using sin to help the church. No, I don’t believe that God accepts this and God doesn’t need to use such means to support His church. Does this make sense? It would be like a house of prostitution profits used to help God’s church.

Reply

Francis Light June 11, 2013 at 11:50 am

ok let say if a person only first time buying a lottery ticket the first time winning the lottery and one day he know gambling is sin, what should he do about the money? Which way the money should flow

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Jack Wellman June 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Thank you again Francis. I believe if a person doesn’t believe gambling is sin and does it, then they will still suffer harm for ignorance is no excuse for breaking God’s laws. The money that is won by gambling should go to the Salvation Army in my opinion but I can’t see how a person would buy a lottery ticket and then after they win, they realize it is sin. Anyway, even if we are trying to use money from winning at gambling, it is sin and should not be done, even if its to feed the poor. Sin is sin, and God doesn’t want us to do this even with the intent of helping others. God would never, ever approve of sin for any reason.

Reply

Francis Light June 12, 2013 at 5:41 am

thank you very much pastor Jack for your opinion to open my eyes to understand.

Reply

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