The word gamble is defined as “to play a game for money or other stake hence: to stake money or any other thing of value upon an uncertain event; to hazard; wager.” (Websters) Gambling in the 21st century consists mostly of Casinos and the Lotto. Oddly enough, America has elected the king of gambling for its next president. Is it any wonder why the world sees America as the worst decadent nation under the sun?
Gambling Violates Legitimate Economy
There are three legitimate means of transferring property: (1) the law of labor, where money is paid and earned by effort expended, either physical or mental; (2) the law of exchange, where a commodity is exchanged for its value in money or goods; and (3) the law of love, where money is given without any expectation or desire for return. Gambling does not qualify in any of these.
The Creator of man recognizes these principles of economy and authorizes them. Man is taught to prosper materially through (1) labor. He is to “labor, working with his hands the thing which is good” (Eph. 4:28), “with quietness . . . work, and eat” (2 Thess. 3:2). The “laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7 ff; Matt. 10:10; 1 Car. 9:9-10; 2 Cor. 11:8; Matt. 20:1-15). Man may gain through (2) the exchange of something of value, to buy and sell (Matt. 25:27 f;; Matt. 13:44,45; Acts 16:14; Luke 22:36). And he may (3) give and receive, as in relieving physical distress (Eph. 4:28 f; Acts 2:45; Acts 11:29). Gambling is a violation of all these. It does not involve gain by reason of labor; it does not involve exchange of equal values; it does not involve a gift with no desire of a return. It produces nothing and adds nothing to our economy. Gambling and all those who own gambling casinos are a parasite on the legitimate economy and exists without divine sanction.
Gambling Violates Divine Law
“How,” one may ask, “can gambling be a violation of divine law when ‘gambling’ is not mentioned in the Bible?” Not all sinful conduct is specifically named in the Bible. Rather, the Bible sets forth principles whereby specific conduct may be discerned as good or evil. Because the words “rape, suicide, larceny, bootlegging, racism, abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism” et al., are not to be found in the Bible, are we to conclude that the conduct they describe receives divine approval? No! They are in violation of the principles of right conduct and are covered by general terms of condemnation. ‘Such is true of gambling.
Gambling is wrong because it violates industry that God has ordained for man and makes him unfit for this mission in life (Gen. 3:19). One’s income is to come as a result of his own industry: “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that you may walk honestly toward them that are without and that you may have lack of nothing” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). On the other hand, Paul writes, “We commanded you, that if any would not work neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). The gambler profits solely at the expense of another’s labors. Gambling does not contribute to the good of society –it is non-productive, parasitic. The motivation of gambling is essentially covetousness. It seeks the rewards of another’s efforts. To covet is to “long inordinately for (something that is another’s).” This disposition of heart is condemned: “For 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” (1 Tim. 6:10 f; Col. 3:5).
Gambling is accompanied by evils. “You shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16). Gambling attracts the criminal element of society. It results in broken homes, theft, and murder, and leaves in its wake starving children and broken-hearted loved ones, and leads to drinking and suicide. Crime reports testify to these fruits.
Gambling is not conducive to godliness. One can hardly picture the Christ rolling dice or spinning the roulette wheel to finance His journey among men to teach righteousness! (1 Pet. 2:21-22) Neither will His professed “disciples” exert an influence for good at the gambling table! Can it be said that gambling is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or virtuous? Yet, on these things we should think (Phil. 4:8).
Gambling Is Opposed to the Good of Society
From a temporal consideration, gambling is a scourge upon society. It destroys good citizens. Gambling is an economic liability. It disrupts legitimate commerce. Wherever gambling is allowed to exist, legally or illegally, money is taken out of the normal and legitimate channels of commerce, and that when gambling is minimized legitimate business flourishes.”
Gambling attracts the criminal element. Wherever you find casinos you will find the nation’s worst mobsters.” And their interest is not confined to the gaming table but infiltrates the political scene to promote their ambitions. The plea for legalized gambling does not emanate from sound economic principles; rather “much of the propaganda for legalized gambling can be traced to organized and professional gamblers.”
Gambling drains from the American economy, and principally into the coffers of organized crime, more than the combined profits of one hundred largest U. S. manufacturing companies.
Conclusion: For reasons both temporal and spiritually, gambling is pure evil. The Christian is to abstain from every appearance of evil and show a pattern of good works (1 Thess. 5:22f; Tit. 2:7). He is careful of his influence (Matt. 5:16). His will is lost in Christ; he is no longer of the world (1 Cor. 6:19-20 f; Jam. 4:4; 2 Cor. 6:17-18). Therefore, the faithful Christian does not gamble, nor promotes anyone who owns casinos, nor gives his consent for others to gamble (Rom. 1:32).
As gambling itself is wrong, there can be no distinction made in the amount of a stake. It is not wrong only for those who cannot “afford” to lose, it is wrong for anyone who can afford it as well. Whether for large amounts or for the price of coffee, gambling is wrong. Is it any wonder why most every lotto winner you will ever find wished later they had never played the game of chance. More than not, they lose not only their family and friends, but many of them also lose whatever monetary gain they might have obtained. Read the warning of the prophet Jeremiah and take heed: “As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool” (Jer 17:11).