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What Does the Bible Say About..Gambling?

I have browsed through your questions and could not find one about gambling. About once a month or so my friends and I have been meeting for a poker night. We each buy in at about $10. I know that it is technically illegal to gamble, but I also believe that not everything that is illegal is necessarily a sin. I have recently recommitted myself to Christ because of a dream that I had. It is the best thing that has every happened to me and am trying to make sure that I weed out all of the sin in my life that I can. Does the Bible say anything about what I would call "friendly gambling" and whether or not it is a sin?


The Bible doesn’t address gambling directly. That is, there is nothing that says that gambling, in itself, is a sin. However, Christians are told to obey the laws of the land. (See Romans 13:1-7) In that sense, anything that is illegal is a sin, even if it doesn’t violate God’s law. If, then, the law says that gambling is illegal in all forms, then it would be a sin to violate that law. Some states make gambling illegal except in certain circumstances. Only a lawyer could tell you if your friendly poker game is illegal or not.

There are other considerations where gambling is concerned, however. Some people are able to limit their gambling to what they come to the table with. Some of us, on the other hand, have been known to borrow to cover our losses and then lose that as well. For those who are unable to stop until they have gambled away their livelihood, it is a sin to even start. At least two scriptures would apply in such a case. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim 5:8) “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” (1 Tim 5:22) I take this latter to mean that when evil appears, run the other way.

The other thing to consider is your influence on one of those people who are addicted to gambling. While you may be able to limit your losses, someone who sees you and knows you are a Christian may believe that because you can do it, so can they. If they are led in that way to a gambling addiction then you may have violated a principle stated in 1 Corinthians 8:10-12. If you cause a weaker brother to sin then you also are sinning against Christ. This consideration could eliminate us doing a lot of things that may not be sins in themselves.