Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This is a production of World Video Bible School. To God be the glory! Let's talk about gambling. Is it an innocent pastime? Is it a way to fund education or something that helps our community? Something that you can do just for extra income? Or is it something with far reaching consequences? Is it merely a recreational activity, or is it a serious moral problem? A man approached me one day and he said, "I have a friend who likes to play the lottery." And he said, "I was telling him that that's wrong. My friend asked me why." And he said, "I got to thinking, and I couldn't come up with a single verse in the Bible that addresses it." And, he said, "I started searching, and," he said, "quite frankly, there's not one." He said, "I've always been told that gambling is wrong, but I can't come up with a single verse in the Bible that addresses this topic." Well, you know, it's true. There's no verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not play blackjack." But it's not the case that the Bible doesn't address gambling. There are a number of Biblical principles that come into play to answer this question, and that do, indeed, teach that gambling is wrong. I want to go over some of these principles that I think clearly deal with this issue. Because I've heard arguments at times that I thought were very weak. And, I've heard people argue, "Well, gambling is wrong because the Bible teaches that we're to work for our money." Well, that's true. We are to work for our money, to make a living. But you know if that argument is taken at face value, it would also condemn someone giving you a gift. But that's not right. We help poor people, we help people in need. But, are they wrong because they accept money from a friend or from a church and they didn't work for it? Of course they're not wrong for that. Or someone might say, "Well, gambling is wrong because of the risk factor." Well, gambling is not wrong because of the risk factor. Risk, in and of itself, is not wrong. You know, life itself is a risk. When you get in your car and go to work in the morning, you're taking a risk. Being a Christian is a risk, especially in the first century being a Christian was a risk. In the Bible in Matthew, chapter 25, the one talent man was condemned because he wouldn't take a risk. When a farmer plants crops, he's taking a risk. That doesn't mean that he has sinned. When a man buys stock in the stock market, that man takes a risk, but that doesn't mean that he's sinned. Risk is not what makes something sinful. And so, we've got to be very careful about the arguments that we make. And I think, oftentimes in Christianity, I believe the truth suffers because we make weak arguments. Alright. Let's begin by giving the definition of gambling. What are we talking about exactly. There are three basic elements of gambling. Number one: there's an uncertain, arbitrary event. Number two: there's the wager, something of value, like money, that's deliberately chanced on a particular outcome. And number three: there's a winner and there's a loser. And the winner wins at the direct loss of the other gambler or gamblers. When you have all three of these things present, then you have gambling. Okay. Let's talk about some of the reasons why gambling is wrong, some of the Biblical reasons why gambling is wrong. Number one: covetousness. First, just ask yourself what is it that motivates men to gamble? Just think about that for a minute. When I think about the question, "What motivates men to gamble" two things immediately come to my mind: greed and covetousness. You know, in the Old Testament, under the Law of Moses, one of the Ten Commandments was "Thou shalt not covet." And that means I don't lust after, don't long for, don't desire something that belongs to somebody else. Exodus 20 and verse 17 says: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." But, what about his money that's on the table? How are you going to sit around the table and gamble over a poker game, and not violate this passage? In Luke 12:15, Jesus said: "Take heed and beware of covetousenss, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Now, why is gambling wrong? Because of what it motivates men to do. Now, here's a second reason. Reason number two: Gambling preys on the weaknesses of others. You know, Christian principles are just the opposite of this. Christian principles teach, "... As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men..." that's Galatians 6:10. Now, that would involve helping those in need, not taking their money. Christian principles teach us to help the poor and to feed the hungry. But gambling does the opposite. It steals from the poor and robs the hungry. In fact, I have read that the busiest day in the Atlantic City casinos, is the day after welfare checks are sent out. Now, that means that people who can't afford it are in the casinos hoping to strike it big. And a gambler may win at the loss of one who can least afford it. It preys on the weaknesses of others. A disproportionate number of the people who play the lottery are very poor, and they take food out of their children's mouths hoping to win the lottery. In fact, one study found that the poor bet approximately three times the amount wagered by persons in the middle and upper income areas. Another study concluded that, "The lotteries in Connecticut and Massachusetts were equivalent," now listen to this, they "were equivalent to a state sales tax of over 60% on lower-income groups." Gambling preys on the weaknesses of people. It profits from the pain of others. It's exactly opposite of what Christianity teaches. Reason number three, here's a third reason. Gambling is wrong because of what I'm calling the "fruit test." In Matthew 7, 15 through 20, Jesus laid down a principle, a test, by which every activity, every philosophy could be measured. He said, "... Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit." Now, I know this is written discussing false teachers, but certainly there's a principle here that's true with regard to other activities of life. Now, let's ask this question, "What kind of 'fruit' does gambling produce?" When legalized gambling arrives in a new community, does it raise the moral standards of that community? Does it help to lessen the hardships of families in that community or is it just the opposite? I want to tell you, it's just the opposite. I know that many times, if you drive into a state that has legalized gambling, whether it be the lottery or a casino field strip, or whatever. Many times you will see the faces of $10,000,000 winners smiling brightly on a roadside billboards. And you might be tempted to think, "This is a good thing." It's not a good thing. Gambling doesn't pass the "fruit test." Eight months after casinos opened in Gulfport, Mississippi, the Gulfport police department noted the following. Now, listen to this. Murder increased by 75%. Rape increased by 200%. Robbery increased by 311%. Assaults increased 64%. Burglary increased by 100%. Vehicle theft 160%. Three years after the casinos arrived, Atlantic City went from 50th to 1st in per capita crime. Well, what about the great state of Nevada, the home of Las Vegas, probably the gambling capital of the United States. I read that Nevada ranks first in suicide; first in divorce; first in high school dropouts; first in homicide against women; near the top of the list for gambling addictions; third in bankruptcies; third in abortion; fourth in rape; fourth in out-of-wedlock births; fourth in alcohol related deaths; fifth in crime; sixth in the number of prisoners locked up; last in voter participation. Now, somebody might say, "Well you know, all of that's not due to gambling. They have prostitution and drinking and other things that might be contributing. And I don't doubt that for a second. But, isn't it interesting how these things go together? You know, these statistics show a completely different billboard from the one that we mentioned just a few minutes ago. You know, you can see very clearly gambling miserably fails the "fruit test." Alright, number four. A fourth reason I would suggest that gambling is wrong, comes from the Bible in Proverbs 13 and verse 11. One thing that sometimes people say is there aren't any verses in the Bible dealing with gambling. But, you know, there's a very interesting verse in Proverbs 13 and verse 11. Now, the King James says it this way: "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shalt increase." Now the word vanity here caught my attention, because that word means "emptiness." It means "nothingness." And I thought, "Wealth gotten by emptiness, that sounds like gambling." And so, I did some searching. And I looked in some other translations. The English Standard version says, "Wealth gained hastily will dwindle..." But, it has a footnote that says, "Wealth gained by fraud." And I thought again, that sounds like gambling. Another translation says, "Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows..." Another translation says, "Wealth from gambling quickly disappears, wealth from hard work grows." I think there's a principle in this particular verse which directly reflects on gambling in a negative way. Now, here's another reason, reason number five. Another argument against gambling is that it's addictive. You know what happens to people when they win at gambling? Of course you do. They want to win again. They want more and their greed and their covetouseness gets out of control until it just takes control of their lives. Now, do you know what happens when people lose at gambling? Well, they gamble more because they want to win back what they've lost. It's addictive. That's the point. The Nevada Observer references one very interesting piece of information from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It refers to gambling, listen to this, as being "recession-proof." Now, what would that indicate? It would indicate that people gamble even when times are hard, even when they can't afford to do it. Why? Because gambling's addictive. You know, so many people fall prey to this addiction that we have organizations in this country, such as Gamblers Anonymous. I read that one preacher in Texas said that in that state, in Texas at least at this point in time, on the back of lottery tickets there was a phone number for the gamblers helpline. That's very interesting to me. He said he called the number, and he asked them to send him some information about gambling problems. And very interestingly, according to this information he received, do you know what the biggest gambling problem was in Texas? It was the lottery. It led with 73%.