Gambling is one of America’s favorite pastimes, at least when those activities are measured by revenue. The billions of dollars spent by gamblers far exceeds the billions paid for movie tickets, music recordings and the sales of the top fast-food chains from McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and Starbucks combined. Americans gamble freely. Many gamblers don’t think gambling is morally wrong. Is it appropriate for Christians to gamble according to God? We can turn to the Bible for our answers.
Believers in Christ should not take part in gambling – it breaks several biblical principles which are central to a Christian’s way of life. A Christian lifestyle is one that expresses faith in loving care and provision of Almighty God, not in chance or luck. The Bible tells us, “But seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Our call as Christians is to love thy neighbor, not to profit a loss by someone else. Our call as Christians is also to avoid every form of greed and covetousness and to be content what we have. The Bible also says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” As Christians, we are to realize that everything we possess has been given in stewardship by God and should only be used in a way that honors God.
It’s important to make distinctions between what gambling is and what it isn’t. “Signing up” or registering for a free gift is not gambling. This simply puts a person in a position to receive something that is to be given away, and this is the donor’s way of selecting the recipient. However, in the case of gambling, a person is taking chances with hard-earned money.
Gambling also has major side effects which can aid in separation from God. Gambling can destroy lives in many countless ways. Gambling addictions are becoming more and more commonplace nowadays. With mega-gambling casinos throughout the world, the popularity of online gambling and poker playing, gambling problems have become a major addiction of this era. Gambling addictions and gambling addiction problems are severe addictions that have many consequences for the life of a gambler and his or her family. A gamblers addiction can progress rapidly, resulting in emotional, financial and social devastation in ways that can be considered irreparable. A person who struggles with gambling addiction should seek help immediately.
The gambling industry is also immoral. The gambling industry refers to organizations that sponsor and benefit from gambling. Those that sponsor gambling include casinos, lotteries, bingo parlors and other places where gambling is permitted. What is wrong with running such institutions and what is wrong with benefiting from gambling? Often, we are told that gambling is good because it raises money for good social causes. Because the excess money from state lotteries supports the state education system, some say that gambling is an investment in our children. Because the casinos are often willing to a pay a percentage of their earnings in local communities, which use the funds to fight crime, some argue that gambling is good because it makes a positive contribution to society and even lowers taxes. In other words, the end justifies the means and the motive excuses the act. But the true is, gambling is morally wrong.
The first reason it’s wrong is because it is motivated by greed. The goal of gambling institutions is to get lots of money quickly and they accomplish their goal well; gambling is a lucrative business. Notice that the goal of the gambling industry is not merely to get money; any businessman has that goal. Because he needs money to live. But the goal of the gambling industry is to get lots of money quickly, without providing a beneficial service or a sound product in return. It manifest covetousness, which God’s law forbids (Exodus 20:17), and the love of money, against which God’s Word also warns us. The Bible tells us, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Ultimately, compulsive gambling is a sin. Few sincere, Bible-believing Christians would disagree with this. That is, gambling is sinful for those who are addicted to it. You are putting the love, desire and thrill of making big money over God which is idolatry.
Compulsive gamblers sin by wasting time. Gambling is for them such an addiction, that most or all of their spare time is spent gambling in one form or another. Weekends and vacations are taken up with trips to cities that have casinos. The more addicted to gambling a person becomes, the more likely he or she is to neglect their job and family and to focus exclusively on gambling. They also sin by wasting money and possessions. Any money on hand they will use in gambling. They will sell or pawn off their belongings to get more money with which to gamble. And when their resources are gone, they are likely to swindle or steal to get money.
Money and possessions are gifts from God that are to be used in His service. The eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” reminds us that God gives humans enough resources to live on, in order to accomplish His purpose for us on earth. It is our call and duty as Christians to use those resources wisely, and not desire what is another’s.