What Does The Bible Say About Gambling?

Bible and praying hands on wooden table

You don’t need to be a person of the cloth know that the basic idea of gambling is not exactly seen as a wonderful thing in the bible. Religion generally frowns upon gambling as a sordid act of sin but what exactly does the bible say about gambling?

The Quotes

red devil face devil with dice
Image Credit: overthetopstudios.typepad.com

Well, we can start by compiling the evidence. There are a few quotes that show disapproval towards gambling in the bible. Take the following examples…
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

“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)

“And on the sixth day, God created blackjack… and it was good… sorry, He means bad!” (Genesis 1:24)

OK, so that last one might not be entirely true but you get the idea.

Betting has a rough relationship with religion and the bible doesn’t have much to say in favor of gambling. Religious leaders aren’t fans either.

Take William Inge, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. He stated that:

“Gambling is a disease of barbarians superficially civilized.”

Not sure Conan would necessarily agree with that but respect to the Dean for voicing his personal opinion.

The 19th century preacher G. Campbell Morgan has more stern words of warning about relgion and gambling. He said:

“…the whole habit of gambling is of the essence of theft, and this is for the reason that it is a means of coming into possession of property for which one has done no honest work. Whether their practices are gilded by the glory of a court, or tarnished by the vulgarity of a slum, the gambler is a thief in the sight of God.”

It seems like the old preacher might have been a bit dramatic there but maybe he hit a bad beat in a game of poker with a fellow preacher from a rival church. Maybe he lost the church gold even though he had a full house? We shouldn’t judge. He sounds wounded, emotionally.

Is It Fair?

The big question we have to ask is whether the comments spouted by these individuals reflect the bible’s interpretation of gambling fairly. Let’s be honest, there’s no page in the bible where it says “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a dice on the craps table”.

It’s all interpretation and there’s a distinct absence of fact. What we need is hardcore evidence.

If anything, the bible subtly suggests that we should encourage gambling, responsibly, of course! Take the most recognisable bible stories and you’ll see they all basically have a gambling subtext to them.

The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus

What does the bible tell us here? Simple. If you hit a bad loss on the casino floor that leaves you on the verge of defeat then don’t stop there. Have a break and then go back for a second sitting.
You are only done when you say you are done.

David vs Goliath

black and white sketch of David and Goliath
Image Credit: behance.net/homerooruiz

Poor little old you with your 42.22% chance of winning on a hand at blackjack compared to the house’s favourable odds. You are the underdog. You are up against the mighty Goliath that is the casino.

What happens in the bible? Damn right, David wins. Lesson learned.

Noah and the Ark

I know what you’re thinking. How on earth can you possibly connect gambling and a biblical story about a man building a boat and putting two of every animal on it to survive a great flood. Well, it’s all metaphorical.

Noah is yourself. The animals are your chips. The flood is the casino. So long as you have chips covering as many different games as possible, the casino will have a hard time beating you.

The moral of the story here is, spread your bets.

multicoloured Noah's ark illustration
Image Credit: barbarareid.ca

Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

The lesson in this tale is obvious. When the good times are great, don’t be silly. Plan for the bad times. It’s all just a lesson in bankroll management at the casino.

The story is effectively letting us know that gambling is fine if you have the correct money management in place.

The Bible and Gambling… Best Friends or Enemies?

So, does the bible say gambling is good or bad? Well, at the end of the day the bible will always be open to interpretation. That is why religion is such a complex issue. You make of it what you will.

The time will come when you’re stood at the pearly gates coming face-to-face with the big man (or in the equivalent situation depending on your beliefs). Provided you have led a good life and acted with kindness, humility, and love, do you honestly think he’s going to care about whether you won $1000 on a Texas Hold’em sit ‘n’ go tournament or not? I think we all know the answer to that.