A Discussion on Gambling

By Haddon A. Haynes


Times have changed. In past generations gambling was an evil and a criminal activity. It has become an accepted, glamorous and popular pastime for many. Once, the government outlawed and prosecuted those who were involved in gambling. Now, the government is the chief sponsor of gambling.

Today, gambling is big business. Consider the following facts:

1. Nearly all US states allow some form of legalized "gaming." Many allow legal casinos and even more have a lottery. In addition, much gambling is still illegal.
2. Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries!
3. In Mississippi more money is spent on betting than on all retail sales combined.
4. 85% of young people have already become gamblers.
5. Usually the people who gamble the most are the people who can afford it the least: the poor and the elderly. [All statistics cited are from Dr. James Dobson, who served on the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, whose report was issued in 1999. Source].

Focus on the Family Web site has this posted:

"Legalized gambling is one of the fastest expanding enterprises in the United States. In 2003, the gross revenues from gambling were $72.9 billion — more money than Americans spend on movie tickets, theme parks, spectator sports and videogames combined!”

"Gambling has attained unprecedented levels of acceptance, glamorization, and popularity in the United States. Once confined to the remote desert region of Nevada, gambling, in one form or another, is now legal in 48 of the 50 states. Utah and Hawaii are the only exceptions.”

Gambling is “in”, approved and very popular. In some ways it is a new problem for us in that it is more popular then ever before. It has reached a high level of acceptance. But this is not a new problem.

History reveals that others have had to speak to the evils of this activity.

Definitions – What Is Gambling

It would be helpful to develop a working definition of what we mean by "gambling". We should also point out that there are varying kinds of gambling, e.g. the local bingo hall and the hard-core, back room poker game. Some are referred to as “innocent” and others as “criminal”. Here are some definitions:

  1. Gambling can be defined as “risking money in an attempt to multiply the money on something that is against the odds.”
  2. Webster's Dictionary: "to play games of chance for money or other stake."
  3. A Popular definition: “Getting something for nothing”. This can be expanded to, "Getting something for nothing without rendering service or exchange of goods, and is essentially stealing and a form of robbery".
  4. It is to “assume irresponsible risk in hope of unearned gain at the expense of less fortunate players.”

I have found this definition particularly helpful:

  1. “Gambling is an agreement between two or more people,
  2. with the conscious risk of loss and hope of gain,
  3. whereby the transfer of something of value
  4. is made dependent on an uncertain event
  5. in such a way that one party will gain and another lose.”

Connected with gambling is the strong element of uncertainty, the large chance of losing. It involves taking a risk in order to obtain something for nothing and often means losing what one has and obtaining nothing. Gambling is “betting on chance”.

The following descriptions of gambling will bring a smile to your face.

Gambling is “A tax on the stupid.”

Oscar Wilde: “Horse sense is what keeps horses from betting on what people will do.”

Mark Twain: “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.”

Motivation for Gambling – Why People Gamble

Several answers can be given as to why people gamble. Here are some:

Excitement: Some people gamble because of the thrill they receive from the uncertainty connected with it. The more that this attitude pervades them, the more gambling becomes a kind of incurable disease with them.

Fun & Recreation: It is an outing. It is fun. It is exciting.

Social Contact: It is a meeting place. It provides for a social outlet. It can provide a sense of connection with friends or with community - a night out with the boys.

To Become Rich / Win Money: Some gamble because of their strong desire to win money. This appears to be the chief reason people gamble.

To recover financially: To recover funds lost in gambling. To recover from financial reversals. For these it is an act of desperation.

For Competition: Some gamble to excel over others and win the rewards of the game. A desire to conquer.

Escape Problems: It is for some a way of escape.

  1. From boredom
  2. From pressures and routines of life

To earn a living: Some do earn a living at gambling.

An addiction: They are addicted and cannot resist gambling.

One approach to dealing with gambling is to address the reasons for gambling. What Biblical input can we give with regards to the motivation for gambling? Is gambling a “spiritual” answer to the underlying reasons for gambling?

If I am in debt, what is the Biblical response to how to get out of debt?
If I am bored, what is the Christian response to my boredom?
If I want to get ahead in life, what is the Bible teaching on gaining wealth?

Biblical Teaching On Gambling

Lack of Texts Dealing with Gambling

I am told that the Koran outlaws gambling for all Muslims. It presents gambling as injuring both the individual and the society as a whole. Regarding gambling the Koran teaches, “The sin is greater than the prophet.”

(Muhammad), They ask you about wine and gambling. Tell them there is great sin in them. Although they have great benefits for men, the sin therein is far greater than the benefits.” (2:219)

The Bible does not specifically deal with the subject of gambling. It does not have the kind of declaration that the Koran carries. We cannot take you to a portion of the Bible that clearly (explicitly) condemns gambling, betting, or the lottery.

In many area of our life the Christian needs to apply biblical principles and to consider social, medical, and emotional implications. This is how we must deal with the issue of gambling. There is no explicit theology on gambling as there is on sex, or stealing and other social matters.

One text that does not address the issue we are facing

I will begin by taking you to a text that has been used to condemn gambling, but in my opinion has nothing to do with gambling as we have defined it.

John 19:23-24
“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments ... and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.”

Here is how some think: Since the Roman soldiers were bad guys and they gambled for the robe of Jesus, gambling must be bad. In Confident Living we find this: “Gambling was popular among the Greek and Roman civilizations. Both had goddesses of gambling. Of course Roman soldiers gambled for Christ’s robe at the foot of the cross.” (Philip L. Wilson in Confident Living, pg. 42. February 1989)

In Dr. J. R. Boyd’s paper The Berean Ambassador we have Rev. Morris Chalfant writing:

“Certainly on of the grossest instances of gambling recorded in the Bible took place when the Roman soldiers “rolled dice” for Christ’s seamless coat at the very time He was dying on the cross for the sins of the world.” (The Berean Ambassador December 1984 pg. 6)

I would disagree with these authors use of the word “gambling” to describe the actions of the soldiers in seeking to distribute Jesus’ coat. I would argue that this was not gambling but the “casting of lots” to determine choice as was used in several other parts of the Bible narrative. It was simply a mechanism used to determine who would take the coat of Jesus. It does not fall under our definition of gambling. No money was wagered. No chance of financial loss was involved.

If the casting of lots for Jesus’ garment was a form of gambling, then would the appointment of Matthias by “rolling dice” as the one to replace Judas not also be a form of gambling? My answer would be again “no”.

Acts 1:23-26
“And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.... And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

Archaeological and historical evidence shows that dice playing and other forms of gambling were practiced in Biblical times. The only mention of gambling in the Bible, however, is when Roman soldiers cast lots to see who would get Jesus' clothing after He was crucified (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:24).

Casting lots was not primarily a gambling method, but a way of making a decision, similar to drawing straws (Leviticus 16:8, Numbers 34:13, Jonah 1:7, Acts 1:23-26). It was often assumed that God would make His will known in the outcome. The "lots" mentioned in the Bible may have been a form of dice, but that is not certain.

Biblical Principles That Have Application to the Issue

The following are some Biblical principles that should be considered when dealing with this subject.

Belief in the Sovereign God:

The Bible emphasizes the sovereignty of God while gambling is based upon chance – trusting in “Lady Luck”.

Gambling expresses a lack of trust in God - The Bible teaches that Christians are to look to God as their provider, and that we are to be content with the material blessings we receive from His hand.

The Lord’s Prayer directs us to pray, “Give us our daily bread”.

To engage in gambling indicates both a lack of trust in and dissatisfaction with God's provision. See, for instance, Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:11-12, 4:19; 1Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5.

Matt. 10:29-31
Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own estimation; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

Danger of materialism

The Bible condemns materialism, while gambling promotes it.

Matthew 6:24-25
"No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?

Luke 12:13-21 – The parable of the Rich Farmer

Danger of the Love of Money

The Bible does warn us to avoid the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5).

1 Tim. 6:6-10; 17-19
Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.

Danger of the Get Rich Quick mentality

Scripture encourages us to stay away from attempts to "get rich quick".

Proverbs 10:2 - disapproves of dishonesty and approves of work
“Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from mortal danger.”

Proverbs 13:11 – “easy come easy go”
“Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich.

Proverbs 20:21 – quick money does not always last
20:21 An inheritance gained easily in the beginning will not be blessed in its end.

Proverbs 23:4-5
23:4-5 Do not wear yourself out to become rich; be wise enough to restrain yourself. When you gaze upon riches, they are gone, for they surely make wings for themselves, and fly off into the sky like an eagle!

Wealth Does not Satisfy or bring true Rest

Satisfaction is never found in wealth. More money breeds a love for more money.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-12
The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money, he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income. This also is futile. When someone's prosperity increases, those who consume it also increase; so what does its owner gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes? The sleep of the laborer is pleasant--whether he eats little or much--but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

Directions on what to do with our money

There are far better things we can be doing with our money than gambling it away. If we do have excess that we can easily dispense with there is something better than gambling it away – do acts of kindness.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.

2 Corinthians 9:7-9
Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. Just as it is written, "He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever."

Three Principles - Work, Save, Give

The Bible admonishes us to work creatively and for the benefit of others (Eph. 4:28), while gambling fosters a "something for nothing" attitude.

Genesis 2:15
The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for and maintain it.

Exodus 20:9
Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. For six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or your resident foreigner who is in your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

Ephesians 4:28
"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."

“Some Christians argue that gambling does no harm. However, the scripture is clear that this activity is sinful. Anytime someone is enticed to gain money at someone's else's certain loss, this is definitely not practicing the principals taught by Christ. Also, the practice of gambling takes away from the Bible's principals of economics—working, saving and giving. Discipline and accountability for spending are ignored. Gambling preys on the weakness of others.”

Gambling destroys the work ethic

There are many Bible passages that deal with the need for and benefit of a good work ethic.

Colossians 3:23-24
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

2 Thessalonians 3:7, 10-11
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example....For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

Proverbs 6:6-11
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; observe its ways and be wise! It has no commander, overseer, or ruler, yet it prepares its food in the summer; it gathers at the harvest what it will eat. How long, you sluggard, will you lie there? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to relax, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need like an armed man.”

Proverbs 12:11
“The one who works his field will have plenty of food, but whoever chases daydreams lacks wisdom.”

Proverbs 20:4
“The sluggard will not plow during the planting season, so at the harvest time he looks for the crop but has nothing.”

The Twentieth Century Fund research group commented, "Gambling's get-rich-quick appeal appears to mock capitalism's core values: Disciplined work habits, thrift, prudence, adherence to routine, and the relationship between effort and reward."(16) These core values of the work ethic are all part of the free enterprise system and are part of the Christian life. Gambling corrupts these values and replaces them with greed and selfishness. Rather than depending upon hard work, gamblers depend instead upon luck and chance. Kerby Anderson -

This Massachusetts lottery ad clearly demonstrates how Gambling destroys a good work ethic:

“Lotteries also foster a "get-rich-quick" mentality while belittling the work ethic. A Massachusetts lottery ad offered two options for "how to make millions." Let me quote: "Plan A: Start studying when you're about 7 years old, real hard. Then grow up and get a good job. From then on, get up at dawn every day. Flatter [your] boss. Crush competition ruthlessly. Climb over backs of co-workers. Be the last one to leave every night. Squirrel away every cent. Avoid having a nervous breakdown. Avoid having a premature heart attack. Get a face lift. Do this every day for 30 years, holidays and weekends included. By the time you're ready to retire you should have your money." Or "Plan B: Play the lottery." Dr. Dobson's newsletter: April, 1999 - Gambling's Dirty Little Secrets.

Let us now consider the dangers associated with the gambling industry.

Dangers Associated with Gambling

Addiction is a problem

The growing problem is that of addiction. It is in fact the fastest growing addiction in America. An estimated 15 million people in the US are compulsive gamblers. We are told that one out of 10 adults who gamble will become addicted. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gambling is costly to the economy. Families are the ones who suffer the most.

In the April 1997 edition of the Readers Digest we find this: “As for the young, up to 14 percent of Canadian adolescents are now problem gamblers, Ron Frisch of the University of Windsor reported in a study of youth gambling." (Readers Digest April 1997 pg. 49)

One of the things a Christian should maintain is “freedom” from all kinds of addictions. He must be in control of his life. He must be in control of our money, tempers, diet, and hobbies.

1 Cor. 6:12
"All things are lawful for me" - but not everything is beneficial. "All things are lawful for me" - but I will not be controlled by anything.”

Gambling is an addictive activity. Many are already addicted. Many more are on their way to being addicted.

“Studies show that lotteries are the favorite legal gambling game for teenagers. Statistically, one of seven who play will become addicted. But teenagers aren't the only ones affected. One out of 10 adults who gamble will become addicted too. In fact, gambling is the fastest growing addiction in America. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gambling is costly to the economy. Families are the ones who suffer the most.”

James Dobson writes:

“I described in my previous letter how gambling destroys marriages, undermines the work ethic, increases crime, motivates suicide, destroys the financial security of families and is related to any number of other social issues. But there is another concern that should pose major worry for mothers and fathers. It is the alarming penetration of gambling into the world of children and teenagers.”

Are you listening, parents? Your kids may be at risk at this very moment. Studies show that about two-thirds of teens have gambled in the past year. Sometimes they are betting on sports or cards with their friends, but a staggering percentage are gambling on legal activities despite their ages. In Massachusetts, 47 percent of 7th graders, and three-quarters of high school seniors, have played the lottery. Massachusetts' attorney general found that two-thirds of underage teens who tried were able to bet on keno games run by the lottery. In a survey of 12,000 Louisiana adolescents, one-quarter reported playing video poker, 17 percent had gambled on slot machines, and one in ten had bet on horse or dog racing.

Even more significant is what is happening to these young people as a result of their involvement with gambling. The survey of Massachusetts high school students found that one in 20 had already been arrested for a gambling-related offense; 10 percent experienced family problems due to gambling; and 8 percent had gotten in trouble at work or school because of gambling. A new Louisiana State University study shows that Louisiana youngsters in juvenile detention are roughly four times as likely to have a serious gambling problem as their peers. Two-thirds of the hard-core gamblers in detention admitted stealing specifically to finance their gambling.

As for gambling at the college level, Sports Illustrated produced an in-depth three-part series that described gambling as "the dirty little secret on college campuses, where it [gambling] is rampant and prospering." Betting also threatens the integrity of collegiate athletics. A national study by the University of Michigan earlier this year found that 45 percent of male college football and basketball players admit to gambling on sports, despite rules explicitly prohibiting such activities. More than 5 percent admit shaving points, leaking inside information for gambling purposes or betting on their own games.

Studies indicate as many as eight percent of teens are already hooked on gambling! For all their pious talk about wanting to prevent underage gambling, many operators actively attempt to cultivate betting habits in the next generation. That's why casinos in Louisiana have donated computer equipment and library books — along with cards, dice and T-shirts emblazoned with casino logos — to schoolchildren there (and why a grateful superintendent repaid their generosity by making a television commercial for a casino!). That's why games in children's arcades inside casinos are virtual copies of adult casino games. That's why casino complexes now appeal to children with amusement rides, theme parks and movie theaters — often forcing kids to walk through the casino floor to get to these attractions! (

Social Problems

1. Crime:

“Crime rates in casino communities are 84% higher than the national average.” (US News & World Report 1/15/96)

2. Family issues:

3. Business:

“People who gamble give to the pool of money that composes great wealth. This causes them to give to the rich and as Proverbs 22:16 says "...he who gives to the rich will surely come to want." Our states are also reaping a type of "poverty" where gambling exists because it undermines the American work ethic. The result is lowered productivity, use of work time to gamble, absenteeism, high rates of business failure, and repeated non-payment of loans, mortgages and other financial obligations. Gambling is, to many, a scheme to escape labor.” (

An article in 1997 Reader’s Digest indicates that businesses do not profit from gambling establishments:

“Politicians claim casinos bring economic prosperity to communities, but experts say that in the end, casinos benefit only government coffers and the gambling industry.

“Loto-Quebec’s promises that the Montreal Casino would bring increased tourism proved empty. Up to 80 percent of the almost $200 million annual profit accruing to Quebec comes from gamblers within the province. Montreal businesses complain of declining sales as entertainment dollars are extracted from other recreations, such as movie-going, to the casino.

“‘The bottom line is that gambling creates no new wealth,’ says Wayne York, a University College of Cape Breton psychology lecturer who operates regional gambling-dependency programs. York points out that since two casinos opened in his province of Nova Scotia last year, surrounding businesses, from department stores to restaurants to beauty parlours, have seen a drop in trade. ‘Most of the players are not the promised high rollers or tourists,’ he says, ‘but ordinary, local people, many of whom can ill afford it.’” (Reader’s Digest, April 1997, pg. 49-50)

Gain at the Expense of Others

Gambling is nothing more than making gain at the expense of another. Every winning prize is plucked from the pockets of unfortunate and vulnerable people. You win at the expense and hurt of others. Your gain is at the expense of others who receive nothing in return for your profit.

“Some Christians argue that gambling does no harm. However, the scripture is clear that this activity is sinful. Anytime someone is enticed to gain money at someone's else's certain loss, this is definitely not practicing the principals taught by Christ. Also, the practice of gambling takes away from the Bible's principals of economics—working, saving and giving. Discipline and accountability for spending are ignored. Gambling preys on the weakness of others.”

The Poor are Victimized

“States who legalize lotteries and gambling are oppressing the poor for gain. According to a 1988 study of the Michigan lottery, that state sells the greatest number of tickets in low-income and ethnic neighbourhoods in urban areas. Lottery tickets made available in grocery marts and drive-in markets make it easy for people to purchase these "chances to win the big hit." Some spend money on the lottery tickets instead of groceries for their families. Many compulsive gamblers wreck their lives and their families as they are encouraged to risk money that they usually cannot afford to lose. An estimated 15 million people are compulsive gamblers.”

Proverbs 22:16
"He who oppresses the poor to get gain for himself, and he who gives to the rich will surely come to want"

Gambling Hurts the Poor

Kirby Anderson informs us:

But the evidence shows that legalized gambling often hurts those who are poor and disadvantaged. One New York lottery agent stated, "Seventy percent of those who buy my tickets are poor, black, or Hispanic." And a National Bureau of Economic Research "shows that the poor bet a much larger share of their income."

A major study on the effect of the California lottery came to the same conclusions. The Field Institute's California Poll found that 18 percent of the state's adults bought 71 percent of the tickets. These heavy lottery players (who bought more than 20 tickets in the contest's first 45 days) are "more likely than others to be black, poorer and less educated than the average Californian."

Studies also indicate that gambling increases when economic times are uncertain and people are concerned about their future. Joseph Dunn (director of the National Council on Compulsive Gambling) says, "People who are worried about the factory closing take a chance on making it big. Once they win anything, they're hooked."

The social impact of gambling is often hidden from the citizens who decide to participate in legalized gambling. But later these costs show up in the shattered lives of individuals and their families. Psychologist Julian Taber warns, "No one knows the social costs of gambling or how many players will become addicted...the states are experimenting with the minds of the people on a massive scale." Families are torn apart by strife, divorce, and bankruptcy. Boydon Cole and Sidney Margolius in their book, When You Gamble, You Risk More Than Your Money, conclude: "There is no doubt of the destructive effect of gambling on the family life. The corrosive effects of gambling attack both the white-collar and blue-collar families with equal vigor." Kerby Anderson -

James Dobson:

The Boston Globe documented how the lottery saturates poor Massachusetts neighborhoods with outlets. For example, Chelsea, an economically struggling community, has one lottery retailer for every 363 residents. By comparison, the affluent suburb of Milton has one for every 3,657 residents. Chelsea residents, many of whom are on welfare, spend nearly 8 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets. That amounts to more than $900 per person, annually. During a lunch break from the Boston commission hearings, our staff and I drove to another economically depressed community named Mattapan. I stood in a liquor store there and watched poor people coming in to buy lottery tickets. The scene saddened me. I asked one man, who stated he was 58 but looked more like 70, why he came in to buy several tickets nearly every day. He said, "This is my retirement plan. I'm going to hit it big." He continued on: "I play every day... . I lose more than I win — but I won $100 one time."

Before leaving, the store owner told us, "The lottery is no good. It robs from the poor. It robs from my neighbors. People lose a lot of money. The government has no business being involved." Then we learned that when the Social Security and welfare checks arrive, local residents line up outside the store and down the sidewalk hoping to parlay their meagre subsistence into instant wealth.

It's the same story everywhere. In Texas, the poorest citizens, who together earn only 2 percent of the state's total income, buy 10 percent of lottery tickets.23 In Colorado, the 32 counties with the highest per-capita lottery sales each have incomes below the state average. Dr. Dobson's Newsletter: April, 1999 - Gambling's Dirty Little Secrets.

The Rich are made Richer and the Poor Poorer

Let me close by sharing a statement made to be by one who owns and runs a gaming establishment. It comes out of a visit I made to Barbados in February 2005.

The very first place I stopped on the island was at a gambling establishment. It was not by personal choice. On the way home from the airport the family member who picked me up decided to visit his brother who owns a successful gambling establishment. It was mid afternoon and not very busy. No I did not play the slots. We sat and chatted and the conversation eventually turned to the gaming industry. I can clearly recall the owner saying, “They don’t win.” He said it with confidence and assertiveness - “They don’t win”. He is a rich man. His patrons are not as rich as they use to be. He wins, they do not win.

This reminds me of two sayings:

“The fool and his money are soon parted.”
“The fool and his money are good to have around.”

Proverbs 21:20
KJV - "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up."
NIV - There is desirable treasure and olive oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish person devours all he has.

Proverbs 22:16b
"... he who gives to the rich will surely come to want."

Appendix #1

A Definition of Gambling

David E. Pratte

In this study "gambling" refers to a wager or bet in which each player agrees to risk losing some material possession to other players in exchange for the chance to win the possessions of other players without compensation to the loser, the winner(s) and loser(s) being determined by the outcome of a game.

Please note four essential elements of gambling in this definition:

1. A game of chance or skill - any event of uncertain outcome.

This may be a game the gamblers play among themselves or may be some event that would have occurred anyway (such as the outcome of an election or sports event).

2. The stakes

Each player places at risk some possession of material value.

3. The agreement (wager or bet)

Before the game each player agrees to risk losing his possession in exchange for the opportunity to take the possessions of others, depending on the outcome of the game.

4. Lack of fair compensation

No goods or services of fair value are given in exchange for what is lost. The loser will give up his possessions without being recompensed, and the winner will gain possessions without repaying the loser.

B. Activities That Are Not Gambling

People sometimes confuse the issue by claiming that certain acts are gambling, even though some essential elements of gambling are missing.

Crossing the street, driving a car

Some people say, "Everything in life involves a gamble." This confuses risk with gambling. Not all risks involve gambling. These acts involve no wager and no stakes. There is no agreement to try to take someone else's possessions.

Games without stakes or bets

The same games, on which people sometimes bet, can be played simply for fun with no possessions put at risk. This too is not gambling.

Farming, owning a business, etc.

Some say this is gambling because one risks losing money. But again there is no wager, but there is compensation. There is no agreement to take other people's property without compensation. The intent is to produce goods or services of benefit to others in exchange for that which benefits us. This is expressly authorized in Scripture.

Investing in stock

Some say this is gambling, but what is stock? Stock is a means for people to become part owners of a company. Buying stock is no more inherently gambling than is ownership of any other business. The intent is to make a profit by producing something of benefit to customers. Investors receive their share of these profits in the form of dividends or increases in the value of the stock.

Further, when stock is sold, both buyer and seller agree on the price. There is no wager - no prior agreement to risk loss at another's expense. If either thinks the price is unfair, they refuse to deal. (It may be possible to gamble or otherwise sin in the stock market, but buying stock does not inherently constitute gambling.)

Buying insurance

Some think insurance is gambling. But again, there is no wager and there is compensation. No one agrees to gain at the expense of someone else's loss. On the contrary, the whole purpose of insurance is to compensate the insured if he does have a loss (such as death, car wreck, hospitalization, etc.). If no such loss occurs, the customer has purchased the peace of mind of knowing he would have been compensated if he had experienced a loss. Regardless of whether or not this is a wise investment, the point here is that it is not gambling.

In short, none of these examples constitute gambling, since no one necessarily wants uncompensated losses to occur. But the gambler always wants financial loss to occur, because he hopes to profit from those losses.

C. Activities That Are Gambling

In the following examples, all the elements of gambling are present.

  1. Casino gambling: slot machines, roulette wheels, dice and card games, numbers games, etc., played for stakes.
  2. Racetrack betting on horses, dogs.
  3. Lotteries.
  4. Charity and church-sponsored bingo, raffles, etc. If someone says, "It's for a good cause," then just make a donation and skip the gambling!
  5. Bazaar and fair booths where you pay to spin a wheel and try to win a prize, etc.
  6. Amateur gambling including poker games for money, office pools, matching quarters for cokes or coffee, playing marbles for keeps. Also included are some athletic leagues where winners are not just awarded a trophy or plaque, but players put money into a "kitty" then play to try to win some of the money. Even if small amounts of money are involved, such activities still violate Bible principles. Further, they establish a precedent that makes it impossible for one to consistently object to other people's gambling. Where do you draw the line and say, "This much money risked is all right, but any more is immoral?"

The Gospel Way – David E. Pratte