What Does the Bible Say About Gambling?
Gambling is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are principles in the Bible that teach how to live for God. From our very first visit to Montana we discovered that some forms of gambling are legal across the state. You can be driving miles from one of the larger cities and come to a gas station that feels in the middle of nowhere and find a casino.
The Bible does not have specific verses the mention the internet, TV, radio, and entertainment but there are Biblical standards we must listen to and follow. By reading and understanding the Bible we can discern what programs to watch, the music we should listen to, and what we should be doing on the internet. The same applies to gambling.
Gambling in the Bible
I Corinthians 6:12 reads:
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
“All things are lawful unto me”. There are activities that we do every day that are no explicitly considered as right or wrong. Pass times and leisure avenues such as riding horses, biking, gardening, hiking, swimming, playing ball, or fishing fall into this category. There is nothing wrong with hobbies like this, so long as they do not take time away from us serving the Lord.
“All things are not expedient”– not all things are profitable. Some activities are not as beneficial and profitable to us as others, but that does not mean they are sin either.
Taking our hard earned money, using it to gamble, and then loosing it is not profitable or godly.
“I will not be brought under the power of any”. When those activities begin to run our lives, then it becomes sin. This verse can apply to many different activities, and it certainly applies to gambling. Many people become slaves to it.
Casting Lots in the Bible
In the Bible people “cast lots” when a decision had to be made. This can be seen in Joshua 18:10, Jonah 1:7, and Acts 1:23-26. Casting lots was very common among many ancient cultures. Money was not used in casting lots.
There is an argument that gambling is entertainment, just like watching a movie, going to a concert, or spending the day at an amusement park. The reasoning is people who are paying to see a concert or a ballgame do not expect more money in return. These are not comparable or equal at all. Instead we must look at the motives behind gambling.
Motives Behind Gambling
1. The love of money is the first motive behind gambling. (I Timothy 6:9-10 and Ecclesiastes 5:10)
2. Coveting — we covet what money can buy. The 10th Commandment in Exodus 20:17 states not do covet. Also see Proverbs 28:22 and Hebrews 13:5.
3. The third motive for gambling is some do not want to work honestly for their wages. This concept can be seen in Ephesians 4:28; II Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 13:11; Genesis 3:19; and Proverbs 10:4. Gambling is a way to get money without honest work.
Sometimes people who work a job will take their earnings and gamble it away. They feel they have a right to do this. However, it is God who gave them the job and the ability to do the work. Everything that own belongs to God and He has given us the responsibility to be wise stewards with the money that is given to us.
A wise steward will give money to God. A wise stewards saves for emergencies. But a wise steward does not loose it in a game foolishly. See I Corinthians 9:7-8; 8:5,12; and Malachi 3:8.
All forms of gambling are wrong including: lotteries, raffles, and bingo games. Any game played in the hopes of winning more money are not acceptable.
People who gamble place their hope in winning against the odds. Psalms 15:13 says that our hope is in the Lord. We are to trust God to supply our needs. Philippians 4:19.
If we trust in God and desire to do His will, God will give us the desires of our hearts. Psalms 37: 4-5.
Gambling As an Addiction
Gambling can turn into an addiction. People then become slaves to that addiction.
II Peter 2:18-20 states that people can be lured astray by others with “swelling words” and false promises. Then you are under bondage to that sin.
This is the same as Romans 6:16. If anyone is conquered by something then he or she is a slave to it. Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:3, 19, and 5:1.
Getting caught up in the habits of sin is the same as being in bondage to it. Don’t let gambling conquer you. Instead let the Lord Jesus Christ guide you. If gambling is a temptation to you or affects someone you love, then we encourage you to take the time to read the verses above. Seek out what the Bible says about gambling and apply it to your life.