Gambling and the Bible

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Does the Bible permit gambling (e.g. lottery tickets)? Is it a sin to visit a casino or play any game for money?

Although the words "gambling" or "lottery" are not in the King James Version Bible, numerous verses denounce the attitudes that are behind them. They include idol worship and greed, which are the foundations that encourage this kind of behavior.

People often indulge in gambling, be it playing the lottery or going to a casino, because they hope to "get lucky." Scripture states that such things as fortune, fate, luck and destiny are as foreign gods in whom the people foolishly place their hope.

The Eternal clearly states that not only does not like the attitude behind gambling he is willing to punish people for indulging in such foolishness. Through the prophet Isaiah he states, "But you who forsake the Lord . . . who prepare a table for Fortune, and who furnish the drink offering to Fate, Therefore I will destine you to the sword; and you will all bow down to the slaughter . . ." (Isaiah 65:11 - 12, HBFV).

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

The Today's English Version Bible translation of Isaiah 65:11 states that those who reject our Creator worship gods of "luck and fate," the two primary characteristics that underpin gambling. A passage in the book of Proverbs states, "Worthless, wicked people go around telling lies. They wink and make gestures to deceive you, all the while planning evil in their perverted minds . . ." (Proverbs 6:12 - 14, TEV).

The Contemporary English Translation states that liars go around "winking and giving signals" to deceive others. Such signals between people are the same kinds of stereotypical signs often associated with those seeking to tip the gambling odds in their favor.

Subtle Lies

One of the deceptive beliefs behind gambling is that by making a small "investment" one can become rich. This attitude leads to what the word of God defines simply as greed. Games of chance, where money is involved, also encourages the false notion that a person can get something for nothing. Being greedy is ultimately a waste of time and distracts a person from what is truly important in life.

Someone once stated that the person who dies with the most toys (cars, houses, other possessions) wins at life. It is this type of materialistic drive and the desire to have more that helps fuel an obsession with gambling. The world's wisest man, Solomon, stated several times how foolish is was to pursue riches (Proverbs 23:5, 27:20, 24).

Demanding Help

One day a person shouted to Jesus from a crowd asking him for help in dividing a family inheritance between him and his brother.

Then one from the multitude said to Him, "Master, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But He (Jesus) said to him, "Man, who has appointed Me a judge (arbitrator) or a divider (apportioner) over you?" (Luke 12:13 - 14, HBFV).

Jesus' sharp, to-the-point response first stated that his purpose on earth was not to be a judge or arbitrator between people to settle their disputes.

The word "divider" used in Luke 12:14 above comes from a Greek word whose meaning is very similar to the word "destiny" in the Hebrew. Both words have in common the same concept of portioning out or dividing that gambling businesses partake in when they take the wealth of one person and give it to someone else.

Jesus warned the man who screamed for his help to be wary of covetousness (greed) since God never intended a person's life revolve around the accumulation of physical things (Luke 12:15). He then gave what is known as the parable of the foolish rich man who built bigger barns (verses 16 - 21).

The book of Jeremiah also warns us not to be "greedy for gain" (Jeremiah 6:13, 15). In short, the Bible says that gambling, especially with our hard-earned money, is something we should not pursue or indulge in.

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