Pastor, Why #26: Why Not Gambling?

Society’s general perception has changed dramatically in favor of gambling, but has God’s? Just a generation ago, if one wished to legally gamble he had to travel to far-off Nevada or New Jersey. Today, a casino is located within short driving distance of most towns, and the majority of people have no further to travel than the nearest convenience store in all but a few states to wager on state-run lotteries. Once a social taboo, gambling and gaming have gone mainstream, and have even become a common church fundraiser with raffles and bingo. Is opposition to gambling just an outdated hold-over from the past? Following are ten Biblical and rational reasons why we should oppose gambling.





Gambling violates the Biblical command, “Thou shalt not covet”   (Exodus 20:17; cp. Luke 12:15; Ephes. 5:3; Col. 3:5) Most people would not buy the raffle ticket to “help the cause” if there was nothing to win.

Gambling violates the Bible command to “be content”

      (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5; cp. Gen. 3:6)  The gambling industry cannot survive without covetousness, greed and discontentment. Remove these base elements from the human heart, and every casino would close down.

Gambling is a symptom of distrust of God’s ability to provide                                                                                                                                     (Psalm 50:10-12; Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19)   Gambling gives a false hope -- If I win, I will never lack again. However, we are to look to God, hard work and wise use of the resources God provides, not the elusive “jackpot”, to meet our needs.


Thou shalt not covet….


Exodus 20:17  Romans13:9


Gambling misappropriates God’s resources

People would respond to an investment manager using their funds to buy Powerball tickets by rightly saying, “It’s not your money to take that risk!” The Christian’s money is not his either, but God’s, and he is to be a wise asset manager. (Deut. 8:18, Job 1:21; 1 Chron. 29:11-12; Ps. 24:1; Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 4:2)

Gambling leads toward greater corruption and destruction

The old “organized crime” has simply become legalized crime. “The ABC’s of gambling are addiction, bankruptcy, crime and corruption.” [, “Cause for Concern”]  

(Proverbs 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; James 1:14-15)

Gambling hurts families

Read the “National Gambling Impact Study Commission [NGISC] Report to Congress” to find a host of gambling’s terrible unintended consequences on individuals, communities and families, including spouse abuse, child neglect and poverty.

Gambling is destructive to communities

NGISC Report to Congress -- “The annual average costs of job loss, unemployment and welfare benefits, poor physical and mental health, and problem or pathological gambling treatment is approximately $5 billion per year. This does not include gambling related incidences of theft, embezzlement, suicide, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and divorce.”  

Gambling undermines a work ethic that builds strong societies

Proverbs 13:11 - “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.” (Also Proverbs 10:4; 12:11; 13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 21:25; Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10)

Gambling opens the door to serious addiction   (1 Corin. 6:12b)

Billboards along our interstate highways read, “GAMBLING IS ADDICTIVE! CALL 1-800...”, and the first full week of every March is “National Problem Gambling Awareness Week”. Nearly 5% of teens and 6% of college students have a clinical gambling problem. Another 10-14% are at high risk of addiction.

1 Timothy 6:9 warns of “...foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

Gambling is a deceptive trap (Proverbs 13:11)

“About one-third of all state lottery winners end up filing for bankruptcy” [Focus on the Family Mag.; Jan. 2002], and “80% of winners wished they had never won” [American Life, April 9, 2007].

What about financial investments? Gambling is based on a desire for

quick and easy wealth. An investment offers the possibility of long-term gain with patience. However, some investments can carry such risk and unreasonable promise that they become a “gamble”. Even legitimate investments can be wrong for a person if his motive is to get rich, or if he is trusting in his investments more than God to meet future needs.


  • Gambling is neither healthy nor innocent “entertainment”.
  • Good causes (“education”) and good motives (“If I win I will help…”) never justify wrong actions. Don’t gamble--give!
  • Cultural acceptance (“Everybody’s doing it.”), government approval and religious participation (church bingo and raffles) never make a wrong become right.
  • Gambling is bad social policy, it is bad economic policy, it is bad moral policy, it is bad family policy, and it is bad for the character, heart and soul of mankind. It undermines the foundation of a stable society and historically leads to increased corruption, poverty and abuse wherever it gains acceptance.