Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: According to the Scriptures, is it right for God’s people to gamble, especially in legalized forms, such as state lotteries, betting on horse races, etc.?
Answer: We believe not. The increase, especially in legalized gambling, has been great in recent times. Also there is much gambling, often legal, on football, basketball and other sports. It has become very easy to gamble online in one’s home. Some individuals win many millions of dollars. The amount that is gambled annually is billions in various countries.
Gambling is based on selfishness, on a desire to get without working for it, that which belongs to others (even if they are willing to give it up). It stems from a get-rich-quick desire. The Apostle Paul says, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the [a] root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6: 9, 10). This applies to gambling as well as other get-rich-quick schemes. Gambling fosters greed and covetousness, which the Scriptures tell us to get rid of.
Gambling often makes people lose self-control, become dishonest, thieving and very inconsiderate of others. It causes some to lose wages and deprive themselves and their families of food, clothing, housing, etc. Many find that they are soon seriously in debt because of gambling, and this brings many other serious problems. Some compulsive gamblers are helped to quit by appealing to an organization called “Gamblers Anonymous.” But the best way to give up gambling or any other bad habit is first to make sure of being repentant for sin and believing in Jesus as Savior and to give one’s heart and life to God in consecration, and then appeal to God and Christ for help and strength to overcome.
The consecrated have given their all to God – including money and all other earthly possessions – and should be good stewards of it for Him. Surely He would not approve our using our money in our stewardship in gambling or any other way that would be displeasing to Him! It is not right for any of God’s people to think that if they wager some money and win they will please Him by using the winnings to further His work. But if, for example, one’s name is drawn out of many to be given a free prize, without the payment of any money, such as a free pizza, if won, should be thankfully accepted.