Skip to Content

Is gambling a sin? What the Bible says about gambling.

This page/post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, as well as an affiliate of other programs, this means if you purchase something using these links, I will receive a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you! For more detailed information, please visit our Affiliate Disclaimer page

Have you ever asked, “Is gambling a sin?” The Bible is offered to us for guidance in our walks with Christ and is very direct on many topics but not so much on others. While it would be nice if everything were laid out perfectly clearly, we have to take time to study some topics where the Bible seems to either stay silent or live in a gray area, gambling being one of those topics. 

The Bible offers indirect teachings on gambling through teaching on the love of money and “get-rich-quick” schemes (as called in modern terminology), hard work and earning money, and the intentions of the heart. We will explore these three categories, as well as the act of casting lots and the parable of the talents, to equip you with the knowledge and tools to decide about gambling based on biblical principles.

playing cards, gambling chips with the text is gambling a sin? what the Bible says about gambling

The Love of Money and Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

While there is nothing wrong with having money – as we do need it to live – the Bible is very clear that we are not to love that money nor covet for more than what we are given, for everything we have is given to us by God himself. 

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

In 1 Timothy, the apostle Paul warns Christians against the love of money, as it lends hand to evil. It is not the money itself at the “root of all kinds of evils” but it can certainly place a wedge between the Holy Spirit and the harmful desires of the flesh, causing us to stumble into the sins of greed (one of the seven deadly sins) and idolatry. By loving money more than God, we can become enamored with worldly wealth over spiritual wealth, leaving behind our duties as the kingdom of God

Similarly, gambling itself is not loving money, nor at the root of all evil, but it can easily lead to it. As the kingdom of God living in a sinful world, we must have boundaries for ourselves to avoid and resist inevitable temptation, especially with a gambling addiction at risk.  Knowing that gambling can lead to idolizing worldly wealth over God, which is directly stated to be at the root of all kinds of evil, it is probably wise to stay away from it, especially if you are prone to addiction or hyper-fixation. 

“No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.”

Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

You either serve the Lord, or you serve the world. Again, there is no clear and direct statement in the Word of God that says “do not gamble,” but it is important to ask yourself when wrestling with the subject of gambling, or any topic for that matter: Does this serve and glorify God? 

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 

2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

God is our provider of all things, including our money. Even when we have earned an income from hard work, it is still by God’s blessing that we have received it, as it is with everything, and we are simply stewards of it. It is hard to see a point in gambling other than just simply getting more money. Therefore, the question is raised: Do you trust in God to provide everything you need? 

The love of money can drive a person to strive to gain more in the wrong ways; efforts to “get rich quick,” which is also warned against in scripture.

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

Proverbs 13:11 (ESV)

Slot machines, a lottery ticket, and games of chance are a way to quickly earn a lot of money while skipping the hard, sometimes dreadful, work that is typically required for an income. “Wealth gained hastily” will not last, and gambling is a way to do so, therefore, gambling is not worth anything in the long run. If the long run for you is the riches of eternity (Matthew 6:20-21), then what does gambling do for you other than waste the time you’ve been given by the Lord? 

We are Called to Work Hard

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” 

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (ESV) 

Again, gambling is a way to earn much money, which is something that should be done through work, as we were designed and are commanded to do. If we do not work with a biblical work ethic, we should not reap the benefits of work: money. Now just because someone gambles and earns money doing so, does not mean that they do not work. However, we are called to be a good steward of the money that God has blessed us with. 

“It is the hard working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.”

2 Timothy 2:6 (ESV)

Sure, a lot of money can be made in the random chance of gambling, though rare, and sure that money can be used for a lot of things, even really good things, but gambling is clearly not the right way to earn money. It is not through hard work and toil that one wins the pot in a friendly poker game or the weekly horse races. Here are a few more verses on hard work and profit:

“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”

Proverbs 14:23

“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 (ESV)

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it”

Genesis 2:15 (ESV)

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and proteins for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”Proverbs 31:10-16 (ESV)

A closeup of the Las Vegas digital slot machine for the post is gambling a sin

Intentions of the Heart

As it is with everything that we do, it is the intention behind the act of gambling that would declare it a sin.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

It is clear that everything we do should be to glorify God. When we are working, when we are running errands, when we are doing chores, and even when we are just out with friends or family, we should be glorifying God. It’s understandable to think that’s impossible, but it all just comes down to the why and the attitude behind it. Are you working to get rich, have a big house, or provide for your family? Are you doing the chores begrudgingly or gratefully, with the posture of helping your family? 

When looking at gambling through this lens, you would have to get pretty creative to find a way that glorifies God. Even if you say you’re using the money for a good cause, that money was still earned at the loss of another person, or even a lot of people, and taking advantage of others’ misfortune is in no way glorifying God. 

Most forms of gambling also (typically) take place in an environment of compulsive gamblers that encourages drunkenness, foolish competition, and addiction, specifically gambling addiction, none of which glorify God, and all of which we are called to avoid, no matter how much fun the harmful desires of our flesh make it seem like – something the gambling industry banks on. 

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” 

Romans 13:13 (ESV)

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”

2 Timothy 2:23 (ESV)

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

Casting Lots

Casting lots is the closest thing to modern-day gambling mentioned in the Bible (70 times in the Old Testament and 7 in the New Testament). This practice is not explicitly explained, but it is assumed to be something similar to a coin flip, where a decision is made based on the outcome of whatever is flipped, thrown, cast, etc. – games of chance. What is important to note about casting lots as it relates to the subject of gambling is what God says about it in this particular Old Testament verse:

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)

Even though gambling – whether it be slot machines, card games, roulette wheel, or such things – is considered a game of chance, our God is sovereign and will do with a person’s money as He wills. Our possessions and winnings are not in our own hands, so no matter how good you may be at the forms of gambling of your choice, it is still under God’s control. 

This concept brings up an interesting crossroad. Does God’s provision over our possessions make gambling a waste of time and effort, since it is already decided what we will or will not have, or does it permit gambling as, again, it is already decided by the Lord what we will or will not have? It’s truly a matter of personal conviction. However, a good decision cannot be made without considering the previously discussed scriptures. 

The form you have selected does not exist.

The Parable of the Talents

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. here, you have what is yours.’

But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.

For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV)

The parable of the talents is a great relation to the subject of gambling through the aforementioned idea of stewardship. The two servants who gave the master double the talents that he gave them were praised and honored, whereas the one servant who was lazy and unprofitable was scolded and sent away, even being called worthless. With the master representing God and the servants representing Christians, it is a simple conclusion that Christ Jesus was telling his disciples, and therefore us, that we are to be a good steward of what God has given us.

Although gambling offers the chance of coming back with double, it also offers the chance of being a complete waste of money – coming back with less or even a negative amount. Do we really want to risk what has been graciously given to us by God the Father and risk being deemed a worthless servant of his? Or do we want to hear that “well done good and faithful servant” whenever we finally enter into the holy presence of the Lord? 

This also ties back into gain from someone else’s loss. Even if we come back with double after gambling, we have used God’s possessions that he entrusted unto us against another person, another masterpiece of his creation. That is not at all fitting with the character of God and is therefore, poor stewardship of what he has given us. 

So is Gambling a Sin or Not?

Because the Bible does not explicitly approve nor disapprove of card games, slot machines, or any form of gambling, it is up to us to come to a decision, a personal conviction, on our own solely based on biblical principles. Although there seem to be more reasons not to gamble, as you have read so far, it is still a decision that is between an individual and God. 

I want to encourage you with one last thing, as it relates to gambling as well as any other matter of personal conviction:

“Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”

Romans 14:13-14

As said so eloquently by the great apostle Paul, if your brother or sister in Christ has a personal conviction against something, such as gambling, and you do not, it is your responsibility to respect that. 

You may enjoy this video addressing the question: is gambling a sin?

You may also enjoy this personal account of a man addressing the personal question, is gambling a sin?

Sinless In Sin City: From Gambling To God by David T. Fiske 

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.