Is Gambling a Sin?

What the Bible says about money and trust tells us a lot about casinos and lotteries.

1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

If you confess that Jesus is Lord, can you in good conscience feed nickels into a slot machine or buy a lotto ticket? Maybe. Lots were cast (akin to flipping a coin) in the Old Testament as part of learning God's direction, but that practice went away quickly after the Holy Spirit became available to believers in the New Testament. Though the early church does seem to give an example of a simple and even austere lifestyle (1 Tim 6:7-8), the Bible doesn't forbid spending money on entertainment. We should admit that there are a lot of "extras" in most of our lives. If we have extra to spend on gambling or the lottery, we might consider what 1 Timothy 6:17-19 tells us to do with that wealth: 

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

This verse points out a beautiful Kingdom of God paradox: as you give away your money out of generosity, you're storing up treasure for the things that really matter in life.

What if you're gambling to get out of debt or get that house you've always wanted or to buy a family member a new car?

I'm sorry to say that you may have crossed the line into sin, trusting the power of the state lottery or casinos to change your life more than you trust God. Jesus tells you you have to pick a side in Matthew 6:24“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 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. Studies confirm that lottery winners are often less happy after they win, and quite a number even wind up filling for bankruptcy. Lotto winnings in your bank account could be the worse thing for your family relationships and friendships. 

Money is just a tool; it's not good or evil, but it represents the power (all the goods and services) that the world has to offer you. We can't put our faith in Jesus while living ungenerously or longing for a Powerball payout. Be a good steward of what you do have and store up the treasure that really matters.