The truth about gambling


Since today is Easter many preachers all around the globe will be speaking about Jesus death, burial and resurrection and many within the church of Christ will probably be preaching lesson on how Easter is just a man made Holiday and how its not any more special than any other first day of the week because Jesus has commanded us to remember his death, burial and resurrection every Sunday when we partake of the Lords Supper. Well, this morning I will not be preaching on any of these topics instead this morning we will be talking about the truth about gambling.


Gambling is one of those words that can be used in many different ways. For instance one would say you gamble with your life every time you get in your car and you drive down the road because you on a small yellow line separates you from bad a car wreck.


If your wife ask you , “does this dress make me look fat” and you answer yes, you to may be gambling with your life.


If get pulled over by a policeman and you try to bribe them with a donut you would be gambling with your health.


While there are many ways people use this term gambling I specifically want to deal with gambling as it relates to using ones money for the lottery, slot machines or any other form of trying to win it big. Now before we get into the Word of God  and what it teaches about this kind of gambling I want show several facts about gambling in general and gambling in Oklahoma.


First lets take a look at the term gambling.


  • To risk something of value for the chance of winning a prize
  • To bet on an uncertain outcome, as of a contest.
  • To take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit


The number 1 reason why people gamble is the hope of winning a large sums of money. You see the thought of being able to win great sums of money has become a real problem with in the United States because millions become addicted to gambling.


According to Gamblers Anonymous there are least 12 million compulsive gamblers in the US right now. This in turn hurts the economics of our country because according the Dallas Morning News the average compulsive gambler has debts exceeding $80,000. And this figure does even come close to the social costs that come about because of family neglect, embezzlement, theft, and involvement in organized crime.


Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying this,

“Gaming corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a hostility again all mankind”


Mark Twain said this, “The best throw at dice it to throw them away”


Some have thought that if Gambling was made legal that it would decrease the amount of illegal gambling. However, just the opposite happened. According to the department of Justice Legalized gambling increases illegal gambling by 300%. There are those who seem to think that since legal gambling helps the state and education that that is a wonderful asset but they don’t want to think about how destructive gambling is on our society or who it takes of advantage of. For instance take a look at how the Oklahoma’s lottery is dispersed.


A 1 dollar lottery ticket is divided up like this. 52cents of it will go to whoever wins the lottery. 30 cents goes to education 12 cents operation which would include advertising and promoting the lottery. 6 cents goes to those who sell the ticket. Now someone might say isn’t that wonderful that 30% of every ticket goes to help education. Well, that money might help the education system but at what cost?


Based on the history of Gambling the people that are affected the most are the poor and the disadvantaged. One New York lottery agent stated, "Seventy percent of those who buy my tickets are poor, black, or Hispanic."  The 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. You see those who are poor are more tempted to try and win it big so they can get out of their poverty but all they do is dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole. Many suicides have occurred as a result of gambling. Many homes have ended in divorce and children being neglected all because of gambling.

Another negative aspect of gambling is that crime rate increases where there is gambling.

According to the Las Vegas Sun “Crimes rates for countries with casinos are 8 % higher than the crime rates of countries without casinos.”

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report Statistic, “Nevada raked first in crime rates among the 50 states in 1995 and 1996.

According to U.S News & World Report, “Crime rates in casino communities are 84% higher than the national average.  

I could show you great deal more on the negative effects of gambling but I believe this is enough to show that there is a very ugly side to gambling and even though some things such as education might benefit from it, it certainly isn’t worth all the problems that it causes.


One School system agrees with this thinking. The North Star Public School in Idaho shocked the media when they refused to take 10,000 in support from the state lottery. When asked why they replied, “taking gambling money would conflict with the school’s mission of developing virtuous citizens.”


Now real quickly let’s talk about the odd of winning the lottery. One person put the odd of winning into perspective this way. “A person is seven times more likely to be killed by lightning than he is to win a million dollars in a state lottery.”


According the Oklahoma lottery web page, the odds of a person winning the grand prize of the power ball lottery 1 in 146,107,962. Odds are you are not every going to win. But what about those people who do win. Are all of their problems gone? Do they live a life of bliss? Believe or not the Bible answers this question.


Proverbs 28:22 A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.


Did you know that a majority of those who win it big end up broke within years. Let me give you just a few examples.


A lady named Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice in 1985 and 1986 with a sum 5.4 million dollars. Today all her money is gone and she lives in a trailer.


William Post won 16. 2 million dollars in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988  and he lost it all and then some. Here is what happened to him. First his ex-girlfriend  sued him for a share of his winning and she won. To show the greed that goes along with money his brother tried to hire a hit man to kill him so that he might inherit his brothers money but he found out and arrested. Then he had more of his family members pressure him into investing his winnings into new business of theirs and the business failed. Within one year Post was a million dollars in debt and now he lives one 450 a month and food stamps.


Willie Hurt won 3.1 millions dollars and within 2 years lost it all because of drugs was broke and on trial for murder.


One last example, A southeastern family won 4.2 million in the early 90s and they bought new homes for them and their family and 11 years latter nearly all the money was gone. Then the husband and wife got divorced.


This is just a small sample of those who thought all that money would solve all their problems, but they ended up is worse shape than if they had never won. All a person has to do is to examine the life of Solomon who was one of the richest men that ever lived and they will find that his riches did not solve any of his problems. So far in this lesson we have simply looked at the ill-effects of gambling and how it affects our society.


Now I want to turn our attention to what the Bible says about Gambling and how it relates to the Christian today. Now the first thing I want to point out is that you cannot find one single verse in the Bible that says, thou shall not gamble. We need to realize that there are many specific acts that are named within the word of God. For instance you will not find a verse that say do not smoke crack or meth. While the word of God doesn’t state the specifics on any given drug we understand that that in principle that it would be a sin to take these drugs because it would do harm to the body and the Christian is suppose to be the temple of God. Therefore we are to take care of our bodies and not to subject them to harmful drugs.


Well this same principle applies to gambling because there are many verses that would be violated if we engage in gambling.


The first verse I want to look at is,


Matthew 19:19  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'


You cannot be a successful gambler and follow this verse because the very nature of gambling violates having love for your neighbor. Now someone might say I love you man as they are taking their money away from a person but I think we all know that this is not the kind of love God is talking about here.


Matthew 7:12"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


I don’t know of anyone who would boldly proclaim that they would just love it if someone would take their hard earned money from them. No one gambles with the hope of losing their money because they want to win and it doesn’t matter if you are playing poker or playing a slot machine the money that you win is coming from other individuals. So again we see that this scripture is broken when a person gambles. Notice what Paul says in,


Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,


Can a Christian follow what Paul has just said by gambling knowing that that they are taking other peoples money? Surely we can see that gambling violates this passage. How can a person say that they are looking out for the interest of others while trying to win their money from them? They cannot. Now look at t verse 5 again and notice that we are to have the same mindset as Jesus. Now I want you to picture in your mind Jesus playing the slot machine or playing poker for money or throwing the dice and saying come on lucky number 7. Can you see Jesus wasting his time gambling with his money? If you can’t see Jesus doing it and we are to be like him, then how can a Christian be involved in gambling?


1 Corinthians 10:31  Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Again can we say that we are bringing glory to God when play the slot machine, poker, or lottery? If we can, I sure would like someone to explain to me how in the world that brings glory to God. As Christians we are to abstain from the appearance of all evil 1Thess. 5:22 and we are to cling to that which is good. Rom 12:9. Now I have already established how gambling brings about all kinds of evil things and so as Christians we should stay far from it. Again the main reason people go to gamble is the hope of hitting it big and becoming rich. But notice what Paul tells Timothy about pursuit of riches,


1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.


Those who gamble hoping they are going to hit it big are not content with what they have. They are not satisfied with what God has given them or blessed them through the jobs. So gambling becomes an addictive snare that makes people lose site of God and trusting in him to provide for there needs. See Timothy was to flee from the evil allurement of riches and instead was to pursue after these other things which keeps a person right with God.


When a person gets wrapped up in the idea of winning it big which is taking money from the poor and others, this is what is known as coveting something that is not yours and the Bible says this is a sin. In fact notice what Paul says about those who covet.


1 Corinthians 5:11  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person.


Paul said that we shouldn’t even keep company or eat with someone who is evolved in covetous practices and he goes on to say 6:10 that those who are involved in this sin will not make it heaven. Now if gambling is not coveting something that is not yours again I challenge you to explain to me how it is not.


Another thing that gambling does is it destroys the work ethic and can lead some people to the point of neglecting their family and not providing food for them. The Word of God teaches us several things about work ethic.


Ephesians 4:28  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.


2 Thessalonians 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;  8 nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,


2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.  11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.


As you can see from the verses the Word of God teaches us the principle that we are to work to get ahead in this life. However, those who become addicted to gambling will stop working and they have way to much time on their hands so they tend to get involved in all kinds of sins. We see that those who stopped working in the 1st century became busybodies or gossips. Of course another result of those not working because of their addiction to gambling also leads that person to neglecting their family and not having enough money to provide for them which is also sin according to,  


1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Part of being a faithful Christian is being good stewards of our money because it belongs to God. We are also suppose to be good examples to those around us and so I believe the Christian should not buy lottery tickets or gamble in the gaming centers.


Now some Christians might say that they don’t see a problem with spending a dollar or two on gambling as long as they are not taking away from their family. Or they might say instead of spending 20 dollars at the movie theater I will spend my 20 dollars as the slot machine only for the purpose of entertainment so therefore it would be ok.


Friends, statements like these are nothing more than excuses to try to make it ok for a Christian to gamble. Now I want you to think about the statement that spending 20 to watch a movie is no different than spending 20 on gambling because they are both just for entertainment. First of all I have hard believing that anyone could honestly say that they are just playing the slot machine for fun. How much fun can person possible have pushing a button over and over again while watching those cogs turn round and round. But lets just say for a min that there is a person that exist that views playing the slot machine or the like as just mere entertainment. Well, the first question I would want to know is what is the Christian going to do if they hit it big knowing that the money they are winning is coming from other people? Are they simply going to give it to the house or are they going to fill their pockets full of the cash. You see if gambling is just entertainment and you are just there for the atmosphere and to play the game then you should not be interested in keeping anything you win. Does a person like this exist? Well,  I have never meet one.


You see when a person plays a game they play to win and those who claim to gamble for mere entertainment also playing to win as much money as they can. If we honest with ourselves I think we all know this is true. Now if a Christian still wants to claim that they only gamble for entertainment don’t you think that you can find some other form of entertainment that doesn’t have a multitude of sins associated with it?  


I believe there are 3 questions every Christian should ask themselves before they get involved in Gambling or in any other questionable thing.


1. What effect will it have on me?

2. What effect will it have on others?

3. How will this action affect the cause of Christ?


I truly believe that if Christian will ask themselves these 3 questions they will clearly see that should not be involved in gambling. Just because you do not think gambling will hurt you or that you will never lose control does not take away from the fact that every dollar that you contribute to gambling will in part be used to promote gambling which will have a ripple effect. Your money will be used to tempt the poor to gamble which causes neglect of the home and higher divorce rates. It will increase suicides and the crime rates and these are just some of the effects of what your money will help promote every time you gamble and this certainly does not help the cause of Christ.


To help put this into perspective let me ask you a question. If someone came around and asked to by a raffle ticket for 1 for a chance to win 100,000 and then also told you that money that was left over was going to be used to promote the homosexual cause or perhaps they said the money be used to fund a xxx movie would buy the ticket? I would like to think that every Christian would say no because they knew that part of them money would be used to support the sinful things. You see it is for us to see the problem with buying the raffle ticket under this circumstance and should be easy for us to see the problem with gambling knowing the multitudes of sins that it creates. I really hope that this lesson the morning has opened you eyes to why gambling is wrong and why we should not even spend 1 dollar on it. Nothing good ever comes from gambling and our society would be better off if it did not exist.


Now before I close out the lesson I want talk about a few more questions that I have heard in regards to gambling.


1. Should a Christian invest in the stock market since it a gamble or whether or not you will loose you money?


First of investing into the stock market and playing the casinos are not the same thing. When it come stock market you are investing you money in product or a service. It kind of like have your own business. Yes there is chance that your stocks will fail and you can lose you money. Again we must get back to the Biblical principle of being a good steward of your money. Now there are all kinds of ways to invest you money in the stocks and they are ratted to from safe to high risk. Now personally I would not invest in a high risk stock I would invest in a moderate or safe one. Investing in a high risk stock would be like me opening up a surf shop here Oklahoma it would most likely fail. Another we need to considers is what is our stock we are investing in. We certainly would not want invest our money in a service or product that is used to promote sin and so as Christians we need exercise good judgment calls on how we invest our money and there is nothing wrong with earning interest off our money. If fact Jesus himself implied this being ok in the Parable of the talents. Notice what was told to the man who buried his talent and did nothing with it.


Matthew 25:27 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.


As far as I can see there is nothing wrong with investing your money in the stock market or interest bearing accounts.


Some have even wondered if it is wrong to have life insurance or health insurance but again I do not see anything wrong with having these things in place because they are investment that will help you and your family out in the long run which goes hand and hand with what the word of God says about taking care of your family.


So, in conclusion I hope this lesson had revealed to you the truth about gambling.