Is gambling good or bad? Is gambling a sin? What’s your stake? The word gambling is not found in the Bible since it is a word probably invented centuries after the Bible was written. What we can do is to take the meaning of that word to determine the answers to our questions. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to gamble is to play a game for money or property or to bet on an uncertain outcome. It also means to stake something on a contingency or take a chance. Out of these meanings we will try to find if gambling is good or bad and or a sin.
First, let’s ask, is gambling good? In the stories of the Bible, there are times when people need to cast the lot to determine something that is uncertain. However, this act of casting is only done to come out with a fair and impartial decision. An example of this is the election of Matthias as the replacement for Judas.
Acts 1:23-26 (NKJV)
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
That kind of practice did not involved betting one’s own lot or possession to be won by one or some persons. It was an act of surrendering a certain decision to God, a decision that is uncertain for a man to make. This is where taking a chance becomes good – when you give your chance to the Lord.
Proverbs 16:33 (NKJV)
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
Now, what makes gambling bad and why it is a sin? From the meaning that says to gamble is to play a game for money or property, we can tell that gambling is bad. It is also a sin, since transgression from the law and doing what is unrighteous is a sin.
1 John 3:4 (KJV)
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
1 John 5:17 (NKJV)
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.
Gambling becomes bad when it involves people betting their money or property and consolidating them to be won by one or some persons while beating the others.
Proverbs 1:10-16 (NKJV)
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—
My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
It becomes unrighteous and a sin when people gamble for the love of money.
1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)
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.
It also becomes bad when people, because of gambling, become lazy and stops working diligently;
Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)
Lazy hands make a man poor,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
It becomes worst when people cheat;
Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
Dishonest money dwindles away,
but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.
And also when people become eager to get rich quickly.
Proverbs 28:20 (NIV)
A faithful man will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
Gambling and playing with money is a bad hobby.
Proverbs 21:17 (NIV)
He who loves pleasure will become poor;
whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.
Betting on money is serving money instead of serving God.
Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
It is also trusting your life on money and riches, instead of trusting on things of the Lord.
Proverbs 11:28 (NIV)
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Gambling for money is a disobedience of this instruction from God:
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
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.
Any gambling that involves profiting from money is not good. It is bad and it is not according to the teachings of the Bible. Even the legitimate casinos and lotteries are considered bad because they entice people to bet their money and put their hope on the money prizes and winnings. They are also addictive and make people lazy, greedy and discontented. They create a few winners and make a lot of losers. This means they create few rich people and make a lot of poor people. Even the sweepstakes and the lottery for charity cannot be considered righteous. This practice was never taught in the Bible. As it was written, you cannot serve God and money, you cannot also serve God and gambling for money. Moreover, you cannot also serve charity (helping the poor) while bringing many people to poverty, laziness, greed and to the love of money because of gambling. Can this act of charity, sustained by gambling, please our Lord? Do you want to gain more money while many people are losing money, possessions and good habits?
James 2:10 (NIV)
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.