Is Gambling a Sin?

Jessica Brodie

Award-winning Christian Novelist and Journalist
Updated Mar 06, 2024
Is Gambling a Sin?

While the Bible doesn’t specifically contain the word “gambling,” a number of passages urge good financial stewardship and warn against being foolish with money or wasteful/get-rich-quick scenarios.

It’s a familiar scene from countless movies — dozens of men and women lined up at a casino, each perched on a barstool with a bucket of coins at their arm, gambling on the slot machines as the irrepressible ding-ding-ding! of the machines blares without end.

As of this writing, 24 states in America and many European and other international countries allow casino-style gambling, while others allow other non-casino forms of gambling, such as online sports betting, lotteries, horse racing, bingo, and more.

Gambling can be lots of fun for many people, even enabling them to win lots of cash. But it can be a source of heartbreak and ruin for far more. For some, it can also become an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol. Many lives have been devastated from the negative effects of gambling and the marital and legal troubles that can follow.

Gaming revenue hit $66.5 billion in the U.S. in 2023. According to the National Association of Addiction Professionals, problem gambling has the highest suicide attempt rate (up to 20 percent) of all addictions.

All of this begs the question: What does the Bible say about gambling? Is gambling a sin?

While the Bible doesn’t specifically contain the word “gambling,” a number of passages urge good financial stewardship and warn against being foolish with money or wasteful/get-rich-quick scenarios.

Let’s take a look at what God wants us to know about gambling.

When We Say Gambling, What Do We Mean?

Gambling is playing games of chance for money. It’s a risky wager, where you stake something of value (usually your money) on the outcome of a game.

Types of gambling vary. For example, there’s the lottery, where you buy a lottery ticket for a small amount – a dollar or two – and if you happen to pick the lucky numbers, you could win millions of dollars. There’s also sports betting, where you bet on the outcome of a race or game, such as a horse or dog race, and your winnings vary depending on how your pick performs. Casino gambling encompasses games of chance and skill played at tables and machines, at a luxurious resort or a small card room. Online gambling is also on the rise.

Some people might win big when gambling and then stop. Others win, then lose, then risk more and more money gambling until they have gotten themselves into a difficult situation. Some people with gambling problems have been known to cash their paycheck and try to double it by gambling — only if they lose, they’ve lost their entire paycheck. It’s one thing when people are gambling extra money, but when their family is depending on that paycheck, consequences can be disastrous.

Is There Gambling in the Bible?

The word “gambling” is not in the Bible, but the Bible does contain a number of instances where people played games of “chance.” In the Bible, they called it casting lots, and while we’re not told much about this, it seems much like flipping a coin or rolling dice to pick a winner.

For example, we know the disciples cast lots to select a 12th disciple after Judas’s betrayal and death (Acts 1:26). In the Book of Jonah, the sailors cast lots to figure out who was the cause of the tumultuous weather (Jonah 1:7). The Israelites cast lots to determine who would live in Jerusalem versus the surrounding towns (Nehemiah 11:1). Casting lots, however, isn’t the same thing as staking money or other valuable items on a game of chance or risk.

The Bible does, however, have a lot to say about wasting money, being foolish with money, engaging in quick-money schemes, loving money, and being a poor steward.

Hebrews 13:5 tells us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10 declares, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”

And Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”

Why Is Money Such a Problem?

Jesus maintained, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). He said that we can’t have two masters — we must pick which one is important to us. Those who love money have a divided heart. They love the world and its temporary treasures more than anything else.

In the Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13, Jesus taught that the good news about the truth of God’s kingdom is like seed. Only the seed sown in healthy soil prospered and grew a fruitful crop. The seed that fell in other places — along the path, in the rocky ground or among thorns — fizzled into nothing.

Jesus said that the seed that fell among the thorns “refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

Money and its allure eclipses God for many people. Instead of relying on God, being happy with one’s current state, and sticking to God’s plan with purpose and faith, they become obsessed with acquiring more and more, coveting bigger and better earthly treasures and are never satisfied.

They also can become greedy, which is also a sin. As Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Working for Our Food

Proverbs 23:4-5 says we shouldn’t wear ourselves out to get rich. “Do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

The word dishonest is also translated as “hasty,” as in easy money or get-rich-quick scenarios.

We’re supposed to acquire money by working for it. Paul taught in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

We’re supposed to be God’s stewards, tending the land and cultivating it. All we have is only because God provided, and we’re supposed to share what we have with others.  

Perhaps this is why Jesus taught that it was very hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 19, he encountered a man who had great wealth and seemed to keep the Lord’s commandments. But when he urged the man to sell his possessions and give to the poor, for he would have treasure in heaven, the man turned and walked away, dejected. Jesus said, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

The problem with gambling, according to the Bible, is that it fosters greed, unneighborly competition, covetousness, and a love for money. While the occasional slot machine or lottery ticket isn’t a problem in itself, the problem is in the root.

Consider: Are you genuinely playing a game, or are you seeking to get ahead financially or assuage materialistic goals in a hasty, dishonest, easy-money manner?  

The answer is within.


Listen to Part 2 of the podcast here

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Cyther5

Jessica Brodie author photo headshotJessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Her newest release is an Advent daily devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed