On Gambling

Should you roll the dice? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I am browsing Facebook and I see someone ask if gambling is a sin. I see most people jumping in and saying yes, immediately, but I am contrary I suppose and have more questions about the matter. It starts with asking what is really gambling.

We could just say it’s playing a game of chance, but is that simple enough to explain it? After all, while luck is involved, there is some skill and strategy involved in games like Poker and Blackjack. If that is the case, could we say the stock market could be a form of gambling as well? After all, one has no guarantee that a stock will shoot up, like GameStop for example, and one could really lose everything and some people have.

How about this scenario? You’re at home one day and there is a knock at your door and there are some small school children there. They are selling raffle tickets to do a fundraiser for their school. The prize is a big screen TV. Now you have a good TV, but the ticket only costs a dollar and it goes toward a good cause. Do you buy a ticket?

How about also you get together with a few friends for a Poker night? You get together and you have a maximum bet everyone can make and you just play cards. Most of the time, this isn’t done so some person can get rich. It’s something guys mostly do just so they can hang out together and the chance adds an element of fun to it.

We could get even more technical here. Let’s suppose you go to an arcade, which used to be a really popular hangout in the past and I even worked at one for awhile. Now you could put some quarters in a game that will offer you some moments of pleasure but nothing beyond that. On the other hand, you could also put it in the crane game, a game of chance, and see if you could win something that you could keep.

There were times in the past I know I won Allie something in a crane game. Long before that, one time I was at a bowling alley with a friend who was telling me that he wanted to win a stuffed elephant in a crane game there to give to a girl and he had spent $5 and not had any luck. I put in a couple of quarters and managed to win it for him immediately.

In the past as a teenager, I remember my Dad and I would sometimes drive up to Kentucky from Tennessee. The drive took a couple of hours both ways. We would have about $20 with us and we would just play scratch-off games together. It was never about winning. It was just about an excuse to get to travel together and have some bonding time. I still remember one time we actually won $50 doing this and just stopped at a place called Oasis Pizza on the way back.

So as you can see from this, I am not 100% opposed to gambling. So what would I recommend here? Good stewardship. If you have money for entertainment purposes and want to use it here responsibly, I don’t really have a problem with that.

What about Scripture? Well, it says nothing yea or nay. Casting of lots was more about divining the will of God. We also know the soldiers gambled for the clothing of Jesus, but that doesn’t make it evil any more than the soldiers standing guard around condemned criminals would mean police officers shouldn’t stand outside of jail cells.

So the principle is more about how you use what you have. If you are going and betting your life savings or your wedding ring to gamble, then you have a problem and need to stop. On the other hand, we could compare it to drinking. If you can drink responsibly and not get drunk, then I don’t have a problem with social drinking and I see gambling the same way.

So if you want to get together with the guys and play Poker, I don’t have a problem. If you go to Vegas and have a couple of spare bucks and want to even try a slot machine, go ahead. If you think you could get addicted however, you might want to step back from doing that and consider some other hobby. I would say if you want to play a game of chance, it’s better to play one where you have a reasonable chance of winning, aside from buying a ticket to a raffle just to support a good cause more than actually winning anything.

Have fun with what you do and do remember this is side money. Make sure you have done your charitable giving first and provided for your family. Then if the goal is to just have fun mainly, then do that and enjoy the company of your friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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