What does the Bible say about gambling?

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1The Bible does not specifically say no to gambling, betting or the lottery. But it does warn us to stay away from the love of money (Ecclesiastes chapter 5, verse 10) and trying to “get rich quick” (Proverbs chapter 13, verse 11).

Betting on the football now and again can be a bit of a laugh. And, in a way, it’s no more a waste of money than lots of other things we might do for fun. But, also, one of the main reasons we bet is to get money. The more we win, the more we want to win again. The more we lose, the more we want to get our money back asap through another bet.

We’re warned in the Bible: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from [God] and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 10). This isn’t saying that money is bad—but the love of money, and the need for more and more money, will lead us away from God and take over our lives. Gambling and betting can be a part of this. We can get betting apps on our smartphones now to make betting on games really quick and easy. Suddenly we can find ourselves putting more and more of our time, thoughts and, of course, money, into betting until we just can stop ourselves any more. This is what “pierced with many griefs” means. Gambling, as a habit or addiction just causes pain, loses us money and may cost us the trust of our family.

So, no, the Bible doesn’t say we can’t gamble. But it warns us that it can lead us away from God and take over our lives. Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew chapter 6, verse 24). Our first priority must be living for God and using everything we have, including our money, to please him. If other things, like gambling, are taking us away from him, we might start to find ourselves trapped by it.

— Chris, an Our Daily Bread reader

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