Here's What The Bible Says About Gambling

Gambling has been around since before recorded history. As noted, it's likely that, for as long as humans have been gathering in groups, they have been making wagers. Similarly, archaeologists have found tokens that they believe were used for games of chance, dating back to 2300 BCE.

For some Christians, gambling has been a vice that is, at best, to be avoided, and at worst, a social ill that should be railed against from the street corners. For example, as Baylor University noted, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, preacher Billy Sunday routinely preached against the evils of gambling, while his contemporary, Walter Rauschenbusch, called it the "vice of the savage."

These days, Christians aren't nearly so enthusiastic in their opposition to gambling; while majorities in different doctrinal traditions still hold it to be morally unacceptable, it no longer riles up the faithful the way other issues, such as abortion or LGBTQ rights, do.

But what does the Bible actually say about gambling? Surprisingly little, as it turns out.

The Bible doesn't say much about gambling, at least not directly

Gambling is mentioned in the Bible, directly, only once, according to Biblehub: as Jesus died on the cross, the Roman soldiers gambled for his clothes, in particular a seamless garment that would have been valuable. The event is described in Matthew 27:35, and the gospel writer mentions it neutrally.

However, in a broader sense, the Bible does address money, and actually addresses it quite a bit. And as gambling involves risking money with the hope of getting more back, then the Bible does address gambling, at least indirectly. At least, that's the conclusion reached by Crosswalk writer J. Terry Price. Price notes that various Christian scholars have concluded that what the Bible says about money forbids gambling.

"The Bible emphasizes the sovereignty of God (Matt. 10:29-30), while gambling is based upon chance. The Bible admonishes us to work creatively and for the benefit of others (Eph. 4:28), while gambling fosters a 'something for nothing' attitude. The Bible condemns materialism (Matt. 6:24 25), while gambling promotes it," noted Dallas Theological Seminary professor J. Kerby Anderson.

However, conservative politician Bill Bennett, who is also a Christian, grew up playing church bingo and noted that gambling could be acceptable for Christians under certain conditions, such as that the amount of money risked is low, that there is no room for fraud, and so on.