What does the Bible Say About Gambling


"He that hastens to be rich hath an evil eye, 
and considers not that poverty shall come upon him." 
Proverbs 28:22

compiled by Diane Dew


At least 12 million Americans are compulsive gamblers. (Gamblers Anonymous)

One in 4 American men and 1 in 8 women plan to gamble in the next Super Bowl. (Gallup poll, "Psychology Today")

Two-thirds of Americans have gambled, and 80% approve of gambling as a means of collecting taxes. (Report by the Federal Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling)

The average compulsive gambler has debts exceeding $80,000 (Dallas Morning News, 1/4/84)

"To gamble is to take a calculated risk for monetary or personal gain." (Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling). 

 Gambling exploits the poor, as  "the poor bet a much larger share of their income." (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Thirty to 50 percent of money collected by casinos annually comes from about 4 percent of the population.

Legalized gambling increases illegal gambling by 300 percent. (Organized Crime Section of the Department of Justice)

"Winning money is the most important reason why people say they visit a casino." (Survey in American Demographics, May 1997)

"Participation rates increase steadily and sharply as the number of legal types of gambling increases. Social betting more than doubles from 35% in states with no legal games to 72% in states with three legal types; the illegal gambling rate more than doubles from nine percent to 22%; and commercial gambling increases by 43%, from 24 to 67 percent." (The Final Report of the Commission on the Review of National Policy Toward Gambling, 1976)

Getting killed by lightning is seven times more likely than winning a million dollars in a state lottery. (Harper's, July 1983)

Only 40 cents of every lottery dollar goes to the state budget. Direct taxation costs only 1 cent on the dollar.

Crime rates for counties with casinos are 8% higher than the crime rates of counties without casinos. (Las Vegas Sun, 6/17/99)

Crime within 30 miles of Atlantic City rose by 107% in the nine years following the introduction of casinos to the area. (Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Aug. 1991)

The rate of compulsive gambling among teens is growing at twice the rate of that of adults. (Dr. Howard J. Shaffer, Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Addiction Studies)

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

Pathological ("compulsive") gambling is recognized as a diagnosable mental disorder. (The American Psychiatric Asso. and the American Medical Asso.)

Nevada ranked first in crime rates among the 50 states in both 1995 and 1996. (FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics)

More money is spent on gambling than on elementary and secondary education. (Christianity Today, 11/25/91)

"But ye who have forsaken the Eternal, ye who ignore his sacred hill, spreading tables to Good Luck, pouring libations to Fate, I make the sword your fate." 

Isaiah 65:11
Moffat translation

"Thou shalt not covet."
 (Exodus 20:17)

The Hebrew word for covet is chamad, defined in Brown, Driver and Briggs' lexicon as a "bad sense of inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire." It is the same word used for "desire" in Genesis 3:6 - "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired (chamad) to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat...."

Thanks to Diane Dew for the following information.

Bible Study 
on Covetousness


"The winner's shout,
the loser's curse."
William Blake

"Gaming corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind."
Thomas Jefferson

"The best throw at dice is to throw them away."
Mark Twain

I.  Get-rich-quick schemes are a hoax. 

Lotto and the Bible

Gambling and the Bible - Scripture Verses


     A.  They bring poverty, not wealth.

                  Prov 28:22 (cp. Prov 22:16)
                  "He that hastens to be rich hath
                  an evil eye, and considers not 
                  that poverty shall come upon him."

      B.  The divinely established means of "getting ahead" is by work.

                    Gen 2:15; 3:19
                    Exo 20:9
                    2 Thes 3:10, 11
                    Eph 4:28
                    Prov 6:6; 12:11; 20:4

II. The greed (covetousness) that motivates individuals to gamble is sin.

              Ex 20:17
              Prov 11:28; 15:16; 23:4-5
              Gal 5:21
              Eph 5:3-5
              Phil 4:11-13
              Col 3:5
              1 Tim 6:6-11, 17-19

III.  Gambling is destructive.

    A. Spiritually. It affects our walk with God.

          1.  It indicates a lack of trust in God's ability to provide.

                 Mat 6:25-34
                 Luke 12:15
                 Heb 13:5
                 1 Tim 6:6-9

           2.  True riches are spiritual and eternal.

                 Phil 4:19 "riches in glory in Christ" 
                 Jas 2:5 "rich in faith"
                 1 Tim 6:18 "rich in good deeds"
                 Eph 2:4 "rich in mercy"

           3.  We should look to God as our Source of supply: 

                  Phil 4:19
                  Eph 3:20

           4.  Gambling expressly denies God's sovereignty and care.

                  Mat 10:30
                  Prov 3:5-6)

           5.  A form of covetousness, gambling violates the tenth commandment.

                  Exo 20:17

           6.  Christians are called to a walk of holiness (separation from the world).

                  Eph 5:3 
                  1 Thes 5:22 

           7.  Gambling destroys contentment.

                  I Tim. 6:6, 10
                  Col. 3:2
                  Jn 6:27
                  Matt. 16:26

     B.  Societally. Gambling destroys families and communities. 

           1.  Gambling robs money from the family, for which parents have a responsibility to provide.

                   2 Cor 12:14
                   2 Thes 3:12
                   1 Tim 5:9
                   Prov 15:27

           2.  Gambling distorts our love for our neighbor, exploiting the most vulnerable members of society: the poor.

                   Phil 2:3-4
                   Zech 7:9-10

           3.  Gambling is a bad example to others. 

                   1 Corin 10:31-33

            4.  Gambling encourages stealing, which increases court costs; stresses out marital relationships by burdening finances ("He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house..." Prov 15:27); and forces reliance upon public assistance, bankruptcy, etc.

     C.  Personally. Gambling is self-destructive. 

           1.  Gambling destroys our work ethic.

                    Gen 2:15; 3:19
                    Exo 20:9
                    2 Thes 3:10, 11
                    Eph 4:28
                    Prov 6:6; 12:11; 20:4

           2.  Gambling is rooted in greed, the love and craving for money, which is "the root of all evil."

                     Mat 6:31
                     1 Tim 6:10

            3.  Gambling is addicting. God wants us to be free!

                     Rom 8:21
                     2 Corin 3:17
                     Gal 5:1, 13
                     1 Pet 2:16
                     2 Pet 2:19


In Gambling and the Law, Rose (1986) describes the current rapid expansion of legalized gambling as the "third wave of gambling." Asburyís book is about the first (1800 to 1835, approximately) and second (1865 to 1900, approximately) waves of gambling. However, these waves appear to have been more like a series of cresting tides in different areas at different times. Unlike the current wave of legalized gambling, these older waves were often not legal and in no sense organized or coherent. Asbury describes these waves as follows, Gambling in America experienced its greatest growth and expansion during the half-century which followed the Louisiana Purchase. In addition to the evolution of Faro and Poker, the introduction of Craps, Thimble-Rig and Monte, and the Phoenix-like rise of Policy from the ashes of Lottery, this period saw the spread of public gaming throughout the country, the first organized antigambling crusades, the rise and fall of the picturesque sharper of the Western rivers, the citizenís war against the gamblers of the Mississippi, and the development of the gambling house and its transformation from a tolerated rarity into a political and social menace. (p.109) The relationship between gambling and the law as described by Asbury has been a stormy one. Wide-open gambling existed in JGI:Issue 13, March 2005. Page 5 of 8 http://www.camh.net/egambling/issue13/jgi_13_turner.html 3/22/2005 New Orleans during the French regime. Gambling bans in 1811, 1820, and 1835 sent ripples of displaced professional gamblers out across the Mississippi and throughout the interior of the United States. The chapter on lotteries is in particular full of references to a lovehate relationship between the law and lotteries. Numerous schools, libraries, and other public institutions were funded through proceeds from lotteries. However, of particular interest is the large number of occasions on which various gambling activities have been prohibited by law. Lotteries were at one time legal and encouraged, but after lotteries were banned, policy (the numbers racket), faro, poker, and other games came to fill their place. Casinos were banned several times in history. Between these prohibitions, various splendid hells as well as "second-rate skinning houses" would pop up from time to time. When gambling was legal they would pay licence fees, but when gambling was illegal they stayed open by paying off the police. These payoffs were essentially a licence fee. The New York police department, for example, used a well-defined formula to determine the size of the graft that a casino would have to pay based on the size of the casino. But in most cities the casinos' existence was always tenuous, as the police might attack at any time if the "graft" was insufficient or if some new reform-minded politician came into power. Many cities had anti-gambling riots that ended in lynching. The lynching of gamblers in Vicksburg, for example (pg. 220), sent shocked waves of professional gamblers streaming north, west, and east, where they established "gambling colonies" in other cities. So gambling expanded and contracted in an almost accordion-like manner. Interestingly, the gambling industry did not necessarily want wideopen gambling. In 1869 gambling was legalized in New Orleans, but a law permitting wide-open gambling was quickly repealed. It was the established gambling industry of the city that led the antigambling movement, because these "deluded sharpers" (p. 416) did not like the intense competition that the legalization had brought. Gambling info
Another problem in our society is drunk driving. Against Drunk Drivers
Against Drunk Driving




[1]  Longstreet, Stephen, Win or Lose: A Social History of Gambling in America.

Diane Dew's HOME PAGE
Back to Anti-Gambling HOME PAGE