Is Gambling Morally Right?

By: Matthew Dyer

Gambling comes in many forms and amounts today in America, whether it be lottery tickets, casinos, sports betting, and now online gambling that you can play anywhere on your smart phone. Most people do it for what they call harmless entertainment and compare it to reading a book or watching a movie. Is this true though? Is it financially wise? Is it harmless? More importantly is it morally right for Christians to practice gambling in the eyes of God? Even though most say it is wrong, many Christians partake in gambling is some way, or do not do anything to fight it in their community.

Is Gambling Wise?
One of the most popular ways to gamble is playing the lottery by purchasing a colorful scratch-off tickets while filling up with gas or getting a snack while out on the road. Lottery tickets are priced in a way that almost anyone can afford to play their game and maybe just hit the jackpot and supposedly change their lives for the better.

Whether you are a Christian or not, is it a wise practice to play the lottery? Well according to the website the odds of someone hitting the lottery jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. Some people may say they only play the small games, they are not interested in the big prizes. Let’s look at those odds too!

The odds of winning:
$1,000,000 is 1 in 12,607,306
$10,000 is 1 in 931,001
$500 is 1 in 38,792
$200 is 1 in 14,547
$10 is 1 in 693
$4 is 1 in 89
$2 is 1 in 37
ANY prize is 1 in 24.

(Click Here to read it straight from the horses mouth)

You have better chances of hitting a perfect hole-in-one game of golf which the odds are 1 in 12,000 according to the Nation Hole-in-One Registry, or getting struck by lightning (1 out of 13,500), attacked by a shark (1 in 3,748,067), or if you’re pregnant birthing quintuplets (1 in 60,000,000).

Twenty-eight percent of Americans in the lowest income bracket play the lottery at least once a week. If they spend $8 on one ticket and if they keep that up all year long, that means they’re spending $412 each year on lottery tickets. Over 50 years that is $20,600, and that is only spending $8 a week. Other studies tell us that Americans with incomes under $20,000 are twice as likely to buy lottery tickets than those making over $40,000. A Texas Tech study found that lottery players without a high school diploma spend an average of $173 a month playing the lottery.

Why is this? It’s simple, the American gambling industry which is worth $261 billion dollars targets certain groups of people in order to make more money, at the expense of those playing. Like they say in the movies “the house always wins!”

Is Gambling Harmless?
Many think gambling is harmless, and it is true too much of a good thing can be bad, but is this true with gambling? Gambling is one of the biggest addictions in America, and when we gamble we are supporting the gambling industry that is designed to feed off of our people’s greed in order to make the industry rich. It is estimated around 10 million people struggle with gambling problems in America, and those problems lead to issues with your finances, job, family, and marriage. My great-grandfather had a gambling addiction which led him to lying about money, which ended in a divorce, and sadly dying alone many years later. If you do a quick search online, you can read many stories exactly like this one from millions of people.

Is Gambling Morally Right?
We have addressed whether it is wise to gamble, and raised the question that it can be very harmful to the person and the family of someone who gambles, but what does the Bible say about it? The Bible does not condemn wealth, in fact the Bible teaches Christians to have a good work ethic, and wealth is a byproduct of a good work ethic.

The Bible gives us instructions on how to manage that wealth, and how we are to be good stewards with what God has given us. When one commits to giving their money away to Anti-Christian establishments for a chance to win more money is very covetous, greedy, and a lack of contentment in life.

“Let your conversation (character) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5

In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 it tells us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I don’t think anyone can argue that the gambling industry is a Godly establishment or institution. The gambling industry has been the vehicle for countless broken lives and homes, and when we as Christians fund such a thing we are not seeking first “…the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…”  like we are instructed by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33. Rather we are funding and advancing the opposite of the Kingdom of God, and this could be said about supporting many ungodly industries, not just gambling.

“… 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.”  – 1st Timothy 6:7-10

Wealth obtained from nothing dwindles, But one who gathers by labor increases it.” – Proverbs 13:11 NASV

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts (bribes) shall live.” – Proverbs 15:27

Although gambling is not the same as lending and going into debt, many people who fall into the trap of gambling are   either in heavy debt or go into debt. It is not always necessarily connected to gambling, but in many cases it is. It says in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” It is no coincidence that the gambling industry is very rich and targets the poor. If you gamble, I encourage you to reconsider and think about how your time and resources could be used for advancing the Kingdom of God here and now and making America better for the future of your children, and their children.