A close-up shot of a worn Bible with a highlighted passage on a page, revealing verses addressing the topic of gambling and lottery.

What Does The Bible Say About Gambling And Lottery?

Gambling is a controversial issue for Christians. Views on gambling run the gamut from complete prohibition to considering certain types of gambling morally acceptable. This article will examine in detail what the Bible teaches about gambling so you can decide where you stand.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not directly prohibit gambling. However, it teaches principles like avoiding greed, loving others, and trusting God rather than money that Christians see as arguing against gambling.

In this comprehensive, 3000+ word article we will look at all the scriptures that address principles related to gambling, examine potential pros and cons of gambling from a Christian perspective, and review the diversity of Christian viewpoints on gambling ranging from complete avoidance to limited acceptance.

Old Testament Teachings Related to Gambling

Casting Lots in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, casting lots was a method used to determine God’s will in a matter (Proverbs 16:33). This was very different from gambling, as people looked to God for guidance through the casting of lots, rather than chance or luck.

Examples in the Bible include the Israelites casting lots to determine which family tribe would inhabit various towns (Joshua 18-19), and the disciples casting lots to select a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:26).

Gambling for Clothes and Other Possessions

There are a few examples in the Old Testament warning against gambling away valuables. According to GotQuestions.org, Proverbs 28:22 says, “A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.” This suggests that greedily gambling to obtain more leads to poverty in the end.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 warns, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” Gambling reflects dissatisfaction and covetousness.

The Sin of Covetousness

Gambling often goes hand in hand with greed and covetousness. Rather than being content with what one has, gamblers covet winning a huge prize. Exodus 20:17 instructs people not to covet anything that belongs to one’s neighbor.

Covetousness is idolatry as one desires possessions over God (Colossians 3:5). The book of Hebrews also warns, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). Gambling contradicts these teachings.

Trusting in Uncertain Riches Rather Than God

Gambling reflects a greed for money and possessions, and a trust in luck or chance rather than God’s provision. As 1 Timothy 6:17 states: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth.”

Additionally, Matthew 6:24 warns, “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money.” When gambling, one ultimately serves money by trusting in the slim chance of winning rather than trusting God.

New Testament Teachings Related to Greed and Possessions

Laying Up Treasures in Heaven Rather Than on Earth

Jesus taught his followers not to store up treasures for themselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Rather, he told them to store up treasures for themselves in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

The implication is that believers should use their resources to honor God and help others, rather than hoarding possessions and wealth for themselves.

Serving God Rather Than Money

Jesus warned that no one can serve both God and money. A person will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil behavior like greed, deception, and exploitation (1 Timothy 6:10).

Therefore, believers should seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness rather than worrying about money and possessions (Matthew 6:25-34).

Avoiding Greed, Envy, Covetousness

The New Testament condemns greed and coveting what belongs to others. For example, Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

Hebrews 13:5 declares, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”

Giving Generously Rather Than Storing Up Possessions

Rather than hoarding possessions, believers are instructed to be generous givers. For instance, 1 Timothy 6:18 commands, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Applying Biblical Principles to Gambling

Does Gambling Demonstrate Greed and Lack of Contentment?

Gambling undoubtedly feeds the human desire for quick and easy money, indicating a greed for gain and a lack of contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-10). The prospect of hitting a jackpot or big win often stems from dissatisfaction with one’s current financial state.

However, seeking contentment in money or riches goes against many Biblical principles (Ecclesiastes 5:10, Hebrews 13:5). Ultimately, finding contentment comes through faith in God, not money (Matthew 6:25-34).

Can You Gamble in Moderation Without Sinning?

While the Bible does not explicitly prohibit gambling, it does warn against addiction and greed. So in moderation, say spending no more than 1% of income, gambling more resembles entertainment than coveting gain. However, for many, addictive tendencies make moderate gambling nearly impossible.

And even then, the money spent could likely serve far greater purposes for those in need (Proverbs 28:27). So moderation seems difficult from a ethical perspective.

Should Christians Avoid Gambling Due to Its Addictive Nature?

Absolutely. Gambling can activate the brain’s reward system similar to drugs or alcohol leading to addiction (see this analysis). And anything that masters us and leads us to sin should be avoided according to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:12). For many gambling addicts, abstinence is the only path forward.

So while an occasional office lottery pool may not be problematic, buying scratch tickets regularly or visiting the casino often is playing with fire for Christians striving to walk justly and love mercy (Micah 6:8).

Does Gambling Take Advantage of and Promote Covetousness in Others?

Without question. Gambling institutions reap massive profits by promoting the covetous idea that riches can be gained easily. Their entire business model banks on customers losing over time. And studies confirm most gamblers end up losing money, often leading to financial and relationship troubles (see this Gallup poll).

So in many ways, buying lottery tickets or betting on sports does little but enable and sustain an exploitative, often destructive system.

Major Christian Viewpoints on Gambling

Gambling Completely Prohibited

Some Christian denominations take an absolutist stance against gambling in any form. This includes lotteries, casino games, sports betting, and online gambling. They view gambling as inherently immoral and directly prohibited by Bible verses like 1 Timothy 6:10 that warn against the love of money as the root of all kinds of evil.

For example, the Seventh-day Adventist Church states: “Games of chance corrupt morals and stimulate the gambling instinct and foster the gambling spirit.” Other denominations with a strong stance against gambling include Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, and Churches of Christ.

Most Forms of Gambling Discouraged, But Small Wagers Allowed

Some Christian groups take a more moderate stance, allowing for minor forms of gambling or gambling for entertainment rather than profit. For example, the Catholic Church discourages gambling but makes exceptions for small wagers made in moderation.

Likewise, the Christian Reformed Church states that games of chance for money are “legitimate forms of recreation and social intercourse” when stakes are small, no one feels pressure to participate, and motivation is strictly for fun rather than profit.

Gambling Permitted in Moderation and Subject to Biblical Principles

Some Protestant denominations do not have an official stance on gambling. They leave it to individual believers to prayerfully decide about participating based on Biblical principles of stewardship and not allowing an activity to become addictive or prioritized over God.

For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has no set policy but advises members to avoid excess and ensure that gambling does not come at the expense of family, health, job, or spiritual life.

Similarly, the United Methodist Church has no official stance but advises exercising self-control.

Gambling Viewed as Morally Neutral, Neither Encouraged Nor Condemned

A few Christian denominations view gambling as a matter of personal conscience and individual liberty. As an activity, gambling is seen as morally neutral and subject to the believer’s discernment about whether it becomes excessive or idolatrous.

For example, the Presbyterian Church of America has no official position, leaving it to “Christian conscience” to decide. Likewise, the Episcopal Church leaves it to members to weigh both sides of the debate using Scripture and reason.


Christians hold a variety of viewpoints when it comes to gambling, based on how they understand and apply biblical principles. While the Bible does not directly address gambling, teachings on greed, covetousness, loving others, and stewardship of resources argue against most forms of gambling for many believers.

The important thing for Christians is to carefully study scriptural principles, listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and decide prayerfully where to stand. Rather than judging others, we can exhibit grace and liberty toward fellow Christians who in good conscience come to different views on this complex issue.

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