IS GAMBLING A SIN?
by the late Richard Nickels (founder of "Giving and Sharing")
At Caesar's Palace In Las Vegas
Many people would give a lot of money to be where I am right
now. In fact many people are doing just that. I wouldn't give a
nickel (U.S. $0.05) for it all. What is "fun"? What is "pleasure"
to you? Your answer to these basic questions reveals a lot about
I am at Caesar's Palace in glittering Las Vegas, Nevada
attending a computer seminar on behalf of my employer. This place
is aptly named, for the decadence which led to the decline and
fall of the Roman Empire is openly practiced at Caesar's Palace.
Caesar's is one of the most glamorous hotel/resort/casinos on the
famous "Las Vegas strip." Las Vegas is the gambling capital of
America, perhaps of the world. Millions of gambling, night club
hopping tourists, spend billions of dollars in this little spot
in the midst of a barren desert. To have an all expenses paid
trip to a luxury hotel in the midst of Las Vegas would be a dream
come true for many. It means nothing to me. I came here to learn
about computers, not to gamble and revel.
This is a report to you of Las Vegas and its popular
"pleasures." I will keep asking you the question: is this your
idea of "fun" and "pleasure"?
Caesar's Palace is a beautiful place. Water fountains are
brilliantly lit up at night. Marble statues of Roman emperors,
naked gods and goddesses adorn this "palace." Long, elevated
escalators called "people movers" escort visitors into the
resort, along with the recorded voice of "Caesar" welcoming you
to this "palace of pleasure" of the Roman Empire. For $50 you can
experience an authentic Roman feast, a "bacchanal." The casino
winds seemingly endlessly for acres. Hundreds of slot machines,
gaming tables for roulette, baccarat, craps, blackjack and poker
are jammed with people all day and most of the night seven days a
week. Keno (a game in which you select numbers from 1 through 80)
is very popular. One huge area is the sports betting area, with
horse race data, sports events listed and giant television
screens showing several sports events from around the country.
One can bet on almost any sports event. Plush carpets, dim
lights, sparkling brass and crystal fixtures give the casino
atmosphere a luxurious, pleasing texture.
In order to attract crowds, the casinos on the strips have
some of the world's most illustrious and creative neon lights.
Meals are advertised at low prices to gain more customers. World
famous entertainers such as Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Tom Jones,
etc. are currently playing at night shows. Caesar's Palace
entertainment showcase is called the "Circus Maximus."
Watching people gamble is literally an education. Casino
staff are trained to be stoic, unemotional professionals. High
stakes are bet on the gaming tables without any emotion. The
gamblers, especially the ones playing the slot machines, seem to
be machines themselves, putting in coin after coin and pulling
the lever of the "one-armed bandit." Are the retired people, or
the younger people here really having "fun"?
Once in a while someone strikes it rich with a big payoff.
One of the convention goers here won over $200,000. Perhaps that
individual had fun for the moment. However, federal taxes are
deducted before the payoff is made. Does such a Jackpot winner
wisely invest the remainder of the big winnings or is it wasted
and soon spent? Would you find true happiness if you became a big
"winner"? There aren't man. happy, smiling people in the
smoke-filled casinos. One of the most obvious things observed was
that casinos all look the same. They all have the same equipment
and the same games. The odds are in favor of the house. Most
gamblers are losers.
Even at the restaurants at Caesar's, you cannot escape
gambling. There are Keno cards at every table, and scantily clad
female "Keno runners" will take your cards and wagers. Keno
screens announce the numbers drawn.
The Other "Pleasures
One cannot escape what is going on in this place.
Prostitution must be Nevada's second largest business. I was
asked by a flashily dressed lady if I wanted some
"companionship." No, I did not. Instead of the normal newspaper
stands, in Las Vegas you can pick up a free copy of the "Las
Vegas Bachelor Guide." This "wholesome", "family" magazine has
pictures of semi-nude women with their telephone numbers. Laura
hawks her services "Let's explore our fantasies together... I'm
waiting for your call." It's a sex supermarket. If you like sex
resorts, there is the Chicken Ranch. No, this ranch does not
provide hens for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is a "legal, licensed
brothel" as the ad says. It has a well stocked bar, Jacuzzi, and
a 3,200 foot runway so that you can fly in your private plane for
a weekend of "fun." The 18 ladies of the Chicken Ranch must be
attractive as well as intelligent. They provide "quality
company." You see, prostitution is legal in Nevada. Sure it's
illegal in other states, but it's commonly ignored by most
policemen and judges in this country. Nevada is openly
pro-gambling and pro-prostitution.
What about these ladies? Their "profession" may be the
oldest, but do they really have "fun" doing what they are doing?
Do you suppose for one minute that they lead happy, healthy
lives? Is it fun?
Gambling and prostitution seem to be beneficial for the
owners of places like Caesar's Palace and for the State of
Nevada. The University of Nevada has ample funds for modern
buildings and a large staff, not needing to charge the excessive
tuitions that others colleges must to cover costs. Without
gambling, prostitution and other "tourism" businesses, Nevada
would not be the wealthy state it is, having only mining such as
silver (which is now in a down cycle) for its economy.
Drinking water in Nevada might not be best and most
plentiful in this desert state, but that is not a problem since
alcohol is the state's liquid supply. Alcoholic drinks are cheap
and plentiful. Is all this drunkenness and gambling "fun"? I
laughed when I saw that a Las Vegas gasoline station offers free
aspirin to get rid of hangover headaches!
Gambling, prostitution, alcohol and drugs are the
traditional staple products specialized in by organized crime
syndicates. Every coin in the slot machines adds a little to the
behind the scenes collection plate of "fun loving" gangsters.
People Love Gambling
Nevada and its top gambling spots of Las Vegas and Reno are
facing some stiff competition these days. State lotteries are
springing up all over the United States. There are a number of
congressional bills seeking to establish a national American
lottery to reduce the national debt. For readers in the United
Kingdom and British Commonwealth, this may seem to be archaic.
Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand surpass America in
gambling activities. Indeed, gambling is a worldwide phenomenon
that has most of the world's inhabitants enthralled. State
lotteries take in vast sums of money for local governments, which
is touted as "painless taxation." The take of lotteries rivals
that of casino and illegal gambling. U.S. voters, while hating
taxes, love lotteries, which supposedly reduce taxes. They have
approved every lottery ballot measure since New Hampshire started
the modern lottery movement in 1964.
Watching a casino roulette gambler here at Caesar's I was
amazed that people were betting on single numbers, because the
odds are 37 to 1 against them. The house always wins in these
cases. In state lotteries, the odds can be several million to
one! Yet people stampede to buy lottery tickets. On the first day
of the Missouri lottery in 1986, the state grossed $5.6 million
($1.14 for every person in the state). State lotteries pay back
only 45% of each dollar gambled, odds far more in favor of the
house than at any casino. Thomas Jefferson said, "The lottery is
a wonderful thing: It lays the taxation only on the willing."
Americans, Britons, indeed almost all peoples love to gamble.
Most people think it is fun to try to "strike it rich."
Religion and Gambling
Sooner or later an honest person will ask the question "Is
gambling a sin?" Most will avoid the question or merely
concentrate on the problem of compulsive gamblers. According to a
1975 study by the Survey Research Center, about 1.1 million
American adults are compulsive gamblers, and about three times
that number are borderline "gambler-holics." Many Australians and
New Zealanders are overboard into gambling. Their newspapers have
huge track racing sections daily. Stories of fathers gambling
away all the family savings to the impoverishment of their
children are true. Is moderate, controlled gambling an acceptable
action in the sight of the Creator? Let's face this issue
Religion in general today avoids this "dead" moral issue.
You see, morality has declined to such a low level that items
that were once great moral issues are now non-issues, such as
Divorce and Remarriage and gambling.
The University of Nevada at Las Vegas has a great collection
of books on gambling. A few, written mainly before 1900, are
against gambling. There is almost no current material on the
subject of gambling from a moral, Biblical viewpoint.
Nevada's dominant religion is the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints, the Mormons. If the Mormons wanted to, they
could put a stop to gambling and prostitution in Nevada. Are they
silent because they profit from the influx of gambling and
prostitution money into their state?
Some members of Sabbath keeping churches such as the
Worldwide Church of God, and Church of God International gamble
during the Feast of Tabernacles celebrations. Garner Ted
Armstrong has been seen gambling for high stakes in a Nevada
casino, all the while claiming to be a minister of Jesus Christ.
(I do not have the date of year this study was written, but
obviously it was after Ted Armstrong was kicked out of Worldwide
Church of God in 1978 and formed his CGI church - so this study
was probably written in the middle 1980s - Keith Hunt)
It is almost impossible to find any religion, other than
extreme fundamentalists, that is against all forms of gambling.
Religion has promoted gambling. From Roman Catholic Church bingo
to state lotteries, self professed "Christians" have advanced the
prevalence of gambling. Caesar's Palace exists because religion
has approved it, because religious people enjoy gambling. Is
gambling "fun" and "pleasure" to you?
What Gambling Is
Let us define gambling.
Gambling is the determination of the ownership of property
by appeal to chance. Chance is the resultant play of natural
forces that cannot be controlled or calculated by those who
appeal to it. Most games of chance have some degree of skill,
such as horse racing. Godly labor, or human effort, is the
natural basis of the right of property. Some proportion of
property must be guaranteed to the individual who exerts himself
in productive labor. Gambling, however, is the denial of all
system in the apportionment of property. (Bettina and Gambling. A
National Evil, by B. Seebohm Rowntree, New York: 1905).
Gambling is an activity in which the players voluntarily
transfer, money or something else of value among themselves
contingent upon the outcome of some future and uncertain event.
Apparently, games of chance originated out of religious and
magical practices. As we shall see, gambling and appealing to
chance are mentioned frequently in the Bible.
Jewish moralists have opposed gambling but the practice of
gambling has been widespread among Jews since the Middle Ages.
Catholics hold that nothing is wrong with gambling provided that
the game is honest, the stakes moderate and within the means of
the players, and the money staked is one's own.
The "Protestant work ethic," however, is squarely opposed to
gambling. Protestant fundamentalists hold that gambling violates
godly work habits, prudence, thrift, and principles of fair play
with reward for effort. (International Encyclopdia of the Social
Sciences, article "Gambling").
Playing the stock market is gambling. This means buying
stock without the idea to invest in the company's growth, in the
hope that by chance the value of the stock will increase.
Speculating in commodities is likewise gambling if one buys or
sells simply on the blind hope that the market will turn one's
way. Company sports pools based on the total number of runs
scored by various combinations of teams is a form of lottery.
Gambling is as common to man as religion. Romans and Greeks
gambled freely. Tacitus in his Germanic described the gambling
fever of the early Germanic peoples, who would stake their
liberty at dice. Germanic and English peoples have long been avid
gamblers. The Encyclopedia Britannica (article "Gambling") says
that "Gambling has existed in every known society from the most
primitive to the most complex." Here is the Britannica's
definition of gambling: "Gambling is the betting or staking of
something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain,
on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose
result may be determined by chance or accident or which may gave
an unexpected result by reason of the bettor's miscalculation."
The casual gambler often does not feel that he or she is
gambling when they risk a small amount they can afford without
deprivation. Twenty dollars to a middle class American is not of
much value. Charitable lotteries give the gambler an excuse for
gambling, and justifying it by contributing to a "good cause." A
superior golfer may wager on his success at a game of golf and
claim that it is not gambling but based on skill only. This is
not so, because he may have misjudged his opponent's skill, or on
occasion he may not play his usual game.
Here are some examples of things that have some features of
gambling but are not actually gambling. Mail order sweepstakes
usually offer something to sell along with a "free" drawing. For
example, if you want to buy their product, you mail off the order
blank and are automatically entered in a free drawing. A new
store may have a free promotional drawing to encourage new
customers. This is not gambling. Those who make a profession of
seeking out and entering free contests and drawings demonstrate
that if you enter enough contests as many times as possible,
sooner or later you are likely to win something. This may not
actually be gambling but it is certainly a waste of time.
Buying a home instead of renting is not gambling. Real
estate values may rise and fall, but the home buyer is providing
shelter based upon an economic decision, weighing all risks.
There is a definite payback in living in a house, unlike the
uncertainty of a payoff in gambling. Those who speculate in the
housing market hoping for a big payoff when the market goes up
are indeed gambling. There are many risks we must take in our.
daily lives that are not gambling. Insurance is NOT gambling, but
a method to share risks and the expenses involved in unforeseen
accidents. If an accident occurs to insured property or persons,
there is a certain payoff, unlike the chance in gambling.
Results of Legalised Gambling
We need to expose gambling for what it is: an immoral system
that is a curse on our society. Even the non-Christian should
oppose legalized gambling. Analyzing legalized gambling today,
several hard realities can be proved:
(1) Legalization of gambling stimulates illegal gambling and
encourages related types of crime. Organized crime can step in
and offer their customers better odds because illegal winnings
are not taxed. Bookies offer credit and other types of gambling,
such as sports betting. Gambling encourages white collar crime
because middle class high stakes players may lose big and resort
to embezzlement or thievery in order to support their habit and
pay off their debts.
(2) Legalized gambling produces a substantial increase in the
number of compulsive gamblers. A Delaware study reported that 86
percent of compulsive gamblers commit felonies. The American
Insurance Institute estimates that as much as 40 percent of U.S.
white collar crime comes from compulsive gamblers. Experts say
gamblers are made not born, and that legalized gambling
encourages those on the edge to cross over the line.
(3) Legalized gambling is not a significant source of state
revenue and creates few if any jobs. No one has yet seen their
state taxes go down because of the lottery. California, which
dedicates its lottery revenues to public education, dropped state
funding of education by the exact amount contributed by the state
lottery. Legislators merely shifted tax monies to other areas.
(4) Gambling hurts the poor because most betting is done by lower
and lower-middle income individuals who can ill afford to waste
their money trying to strike it rich. Studies have shown that
poor are three to seven times more likely to bet on the
lottery than the rich. Lotteries are in effect a regressive tax
soaking the poor.
The Bible and Gambling
What does the Bible say about gambling? There is no direct
Biblical prohibition against gambling. However, many principles
and examples are given, allowing us to draw proper spiritual
Samson wagered 30 shirts and changes of garments with the
Philistines to see if they could guess his riddle, Judges 14:12-
13. Due to Philistine pressure on his bride, he lost the bet and
in anger Samson slew 30 Philistines to pay off the debt, verses
14-19. There were a lot of bad repercussions from this one bet.
In spite of his sins, the Eternal was using Samson to free His
people from the Philistines.
The garments of the impaled Messiah were parted by lot,
Psalm 22:18, Matthew 27:35, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24. Haman, the
enemy of the Jews, cast lots to fix the time of execution of the
Jews, Esther 3:7, 9:24. The enemies of Judah and Jerusalem cast
lots for God's people, Joel 3:3, Obadiah 11. These are additional
examples of wrong use of games of chance, of gambling.
Numerous Biblical passages show the correct use of "chance,"
that is, appeal to "natural" forces that cannot be controlled by
those who appeal to it. These are not "gambling" because property
was not given up, and the "chance" was not whim but the divine
will of the Creator. Man has long desired to know the specific
will of His Creator. The Eternal gave a physical means of knowing
His will, the Urim and Thummim (Hebrew: "lights" and
In Exodus 28:30 we are told they were part of Aaron's
"breastplate of judgment." Not a word describes them in detail.
They are mentioned as things already familiar to Moses and the
people, and connected naturally with the functions of the high
priest who mediated between YHWH and His people, Leviticus 8:8.
The scapegoat was chosen by lot, Leviticus 16:8-10. The land of
Canaan was divided among the tribes by lot, Numbers 26:55, Joshua
18:10, Acts 13:19, Isaiah 34:17. The garments of Aaron were
passed on to his son Eleazar, Numbers 20:28. When Joshua succeeds
Moses, he is told to stand before Eleazar, "who shall ask counsel
for him after the judgment of Urim," Numbers 27:21. The Urim and
Thummim are the crowning glory of the tribe of Levi, Deuteronomy
33:8-9, Ezra 2:63.
Achan's guilt was determined by lot, Joshua 7:14-18. Saul
was chosen king by lot, I Samuel 10:20-21. The order of service
by priests and Levites was determined by lot, I Chronicles
24:5-31, 26:13. Jonathan was identified by lot, I Samuel
14:41-42. So was Jonah, Jonah 1:7. The Jews returning from
captivity determined by lot who would live in Jerusalem, Nehemiah
11:1. The eleven apostles cast lots between two candidates to
allow God to decide who should replace Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26.
In most of these instances, lots were used to determine the
Almighty's will. Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap;
but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." Proverbs 18:18,
"The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the
mighty [RSV: decides between powerful contenders]."
Josephus states that the Urim and Thummim stones gave the
Eternal's answer by illuminating. He reports that the priest's
breastplate stopped illuminating 200 years before Christ,
(Antiouities of the Jews, 5:2:1, 3:8:9, 3:7:5). Others say that
the stones were part of the priest's garment and symbolic of the
Lord giving His word to the priest. I Samuel 14:3, 18-19, 41-42,
23:4,9, 11-12, Judges 20:9,27-28 and II Samuel 5:19,23 show
direct statements of the Eternal made as the result of inquiry. I
Samuel 28:6 shows three means the Eternal used to communicate
with His people: dreams, Urim and prophets.
In all Scriptural examples of the correct use of the lot to
determine God's will, it was a priest, prophet or apostle or
other representative of the Eternal who was authorized to use
this method of discerning God's will. The ordinary person is not
to use lots. The Bible shows that unscrupulous persons resort to
chance to further their own selfish interests.
Why Gambling is Wrong
(1) Gambling discourages honest labor. The Bible supports the
concept of the so-called "Protestant work ethic". Proverbs 14:23
(Amplified) tells us, "In all labor there is profit, but idle
talk leads only to poverty." Profit should come through
productive labor, not by chance.
"Wealth not earned but won in haste, or unjustly, or from the
production of things for vain or detrimental use, such riches
will dwindle away; but he who gathers little by little will
increase them." Proverbs 13:11, (Amplified). See also Proverbs
(2) Gambling encourages greed, materialism and discontent. See
Luke 12:15, Hebrews 13:5, I Timothy 6:6-10, Psalm 62:10. Lottery
promotions induce people to covet the money of others. Gambling
such as lotteries are engaged in by people hoping to win a lot of
money without earning it, which is a dishonest attitude. Money
won in gambling comes from other players, including some who can
ill afford to gamble. Gambling in its essence is a form of
robbery, which is stealing. Each gambler wants to get the prize
money for himself. It encourages greedy obsession with material
wealth, which is having another god in place of the true Creator.
Gambling directly breaks the first, eighth and tenth
commandments, and all the others in principle.
Gambling is basically LUST. Anyone with the Spirit of the
Eternal should be able to discern this fact. Here at Caesar's
Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, where "pleasure" and self-indulgence
reign supreme, lust is everywhere.
I John 2:15-17, "Love not the world neither the things that
are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the
Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is
not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth
away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God
abideth for ever."
Proverbs 21:25-26, "The desire of the slothful killeth him;
for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day
long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not."
(3) Gambling encourages - get rich quick- thinking. See Proverbs
Proverbs 23:4-5, "Labour not to be rich: cease from thine
own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for
riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle
(4) Gambling encourages reckless investment of God-given
resources. See Matthew 25:14-30. If gambling is "fun" and
"pleasure" to you, you already have your reward. If you are
denying yourself, serving the Eternal 100% with your time
and resources, you will not make the pitifully weak (and false)
excuse: "But I have a right to throw away my money at
gambling!" You know that your life, your wealth are not yours. If
you follow the Bible, you are a slave to the Messiah. You, your
money, everything you have are His. Would Jesus gamble?
Sabbath keepers who spend the second tithe (for Festival
observance - those who like to travel near or far to observe the
Feast of Tabernacles unsually put aside a second tithe. I have
written on that as to whether it is necessary today, but
certainly a person is free to do so if they like observing the
Feast of Tabernacles that way - Keith Hunt) on gambling are no
different than infidels who spend their allotted vacation money
on gambling. Gambling, prostitution, drunkenness and ribald night
clubs are no atmosphere for the Bible believer. One year we kept
the Feast of Tabernacles at Squaw Valley, California, across the
border from Reno, Nevada's other gambling Mecca. One evening of
the Feast we went over to Nevada to a dinner show where we heard
male vocalist Ed Ames. Mr.Ames' music is generally very wholesome
and uplifting. However I have often felt since that time that a
gambling casino was no atmosphere for us to be in. Jesus was
invited to dinners given by Pharisees as well as tax collectors.
He preached the truth wherever He went, but He did not support
(And Jesus was teaching people the word of God in those
environments, not just there to relax and saying nothing about
the Gospel - Keith Hunt)
Satan is a gambler. He should know that the "house" (the
Father) has the odds in its favor. He lost before and soon Satan
will stake it all on a last desperate gamble to overthrow his
Maker. What foolishness!
Salvation is no gamble. It is sure.
The only question is whether we are going to patiently
remain faithful, stedfast to the end. Or are we going to
foolishly risk it all on the fleeting lusts and pleasures of this
Which would you prefer: Caesar's Palace with its glitter and
lustful pleasures and the friends of this world? Or a cool
forested hideaway with clean air and water, with a few of the
Eternal's people? Lot took the popular plain of Sodom, while
Abraham took the sparsely populated hills. God's country is
"where the pleasure is."
Psalms 16:11, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy
presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are
pleasures for evermore."
(It is very true, there are simply SOME PLACES the true child of
God should NOT BE IN, PERIOD! - Keith Hunt)
Gambling is a sin.
Compulsive gamblers can overcome their obsession with
gambling by and through the power of the Almighty. Gambling is a
curse, closely associated with gangsterism, prostitution, theft,
narcotics, and drunkenness. Is it right for people to prey on the
lusts and greedy appetites of others? Is it right to throw money
down a rathole, for no constructive purpose other than
"entertainment"? To attempt to get something for nothing, without
working for it? NO!
Gambling is the opposite of love. Its prime motive is to
get, which is Satan's way. God's way is one of giving and
sharing. Casinos exist to take your money, trying to make it
appear as painless as possible. True love is to give and share.
An honest day's work for honest wages. Constructive, honest and
productive - labor builds character. Gambling builds lust, greed,
cheating, and selfishness. There are no positive attributes of
gambling. Any "charity" that resorts to gambling for fund raising
Stay away from all forms of gambling. Labor honestly for
productive wealth. Wisely use your resources for the Eternal's
services. Don't be a loser. Don't gamble.
Ask yourself, will God allow "lotteries" and places like Caesar's
Palace in Las Vegas, in the Kingdom of God on earth for the 1,000
years reign promised in Revelation 20? I do not think so, in fact
I'm possitive such gambling will not be in that glorious Kingdom
of God on earth - Keith Hunt
Entered on this Website November 2007