The Sin of Gambling

By Bob Pulliam

The moral standing of a nation can somewhat be assessed by the entry of moral questions into the political arena. We have seen this with saddened eyes with the issue of abortion. It seems less apparent to many in the form of the lottery and various pari-mutuel ventures. The sadness forms because of a conviction that such involves sin.

The practice of gambling is not branded as error because of a traditional way of thinking. I do not write and preach about things from a socially opinionated point of view. The practice of gambling is wrong because it violates clear principles found in the Scriptures.

No doubt, when all is said and read, some will think the matter amusing and insignificant. The remainder will respect the sound Bible principles we will be studying and will prayerfully consider these matters with respect to the salvation of their souls. In which group will you be found?

Bible Principles

The Bible stresses the following Bible principles and laws which are violated by the practice of gambling:

1. Earn a living by honest labor (Gen. 3:19; 2 Thess. 3:10).

2. Good stewardship (1 Cor. 4:2) toward God (Prov.3:9,10), family (1 Tim. 5:8), and others (1 Tim. 6:17,18).

3. Not moved by covetousness (Lk. 12:15; Heb. 13:5; Col. 3:5).

4. Love does not harm (Rom. 13:10).

5. Influence (Matt. 5:13,14).

Principles Applied

1. Gambling creates an atmosphere of “get something for nothing. ” Advertising for the Illinois state lottery used slogans such as: “Money Does Grow on Trees,” and “Lottery: Your Ticket to Easy Street.” A sign for the lottery on Washington Avenue, in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago, read, “Your ticket off Washington Avenue to Easy Street.”

Many have always sought to get something for nothing. It is that inevitable attempt to avoid sweat on the brow. Schools now employ this basic human tendency to fund all sorts of worthy endeavors. In some places, the sale of products has given way to raffles and contests of chance. A raffle was recently held in this area to raise money for someone with a catastrophic illness. Isn’t it sad that people won’t give to give but are glad to give if there is the remotest chance that they might get?

We, of all people, should realize that the only true prize of life is eternal life. And it’s no gamble if we’ll just live as God ordained.

2. How trustworthy is a steward that squanders money in something with nearly impossible odds? The Wall Street Journal reported that gambling in the lottery is “technically a swindle.”(1)Would you say that one who places his money on such bets is a wise and trustworthy steward? Such a one has more faith in the god of chance than the God of heaven (Matt. 6:25-33).

3. Covetousness has plagued man since the beginning. The sin of greed finds its vent in get rich quick schemes. Rather than working for one’s needs, people like to find ways of attaining such easily. Jeremiah describes the people of his day as being given to covetousness (Jer. 6:13). How would our “civilized age of intelligence and sophistication” compare to those days of greed and avarice?

4. When one examines the true effects of gambling, it is quickly realized that participation in such supports some very harmful results. Away from the lottery, consider those who do not win. In effect, the winner wins at the expense of others. Although they have participated voluntarily, they have also been harmed by the process. Joint participation makes one a party to that harm inflicted on the losers. In the case of lotteries, consider the testimony of actions taken in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland. These states have taken money from the lottery proceeds to establish treatment programs for compulsive gamblers. Such is an admission of harm rendered.

5. One’s influence should be governed carefully to avoid complicity in these matters. Not only would you be breaking clear principles stated above; but would also be lending your influence toward others doing such.


While the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not gamble,” we realize the importance of applying Bible principles to our lives as God’s servants. Much has been condemned in the past under the guise of gambling which really has nothing inherently wrong involved in it (playing pool, cards without betting, etc.). Perhaps this has left the idea in the minds of some that gambling really isn’t a serious issue to be addressed by Christians. Consider, however, the above principles and what they say about the wonderful way our government would raise revenues.

After you consider these matters, your course should be clear. Avoid any support of such activities, and encourage your friends to do the same. Not only is such a sin; it is a blight on any society that would claim a degree of selfrespect and intelligence!


1. The Wall Street Journal, “Gambling and the Government,” Jan. 4, 1974.

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 4, pp. 110-111
February 20, 1992