We have seen, in the latter part of this century, a dramatic increase in the availability of gambling–whether it be in Las Vegas or a small town such as Cripple Creek, Colorado–rapidly changing from a mining town to a gambling spa.

Many Christians contend that since the Bible does not explicitly address the issue of gambling, Scripture offers no guidance in this regard. On the contrary, there are many principles found in the Word of God that show that if you enter into the activity of gambling the odds are against you. In fact, gambling affects our view of God, others and ourselves.

I. Gambling Affects Our View of God

A. Gambling indicates a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide (Matthew 6:25-34).

God who clothed the lilies of the field and who feeds the birds will provide for our physical needs as well (cf. Luke 12:15; Hebrews 13:5; I Timothy 6:6-9).

B. Gambling denies God’s law of order and His care for our lives (Matthew 10:30).

There is no place for the concept of luck in a Christian’s life in which God is so intimately involved in that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).

C. Gambling violates the 10th Commandment (Exodus 20:17).

The activity of gambling is an act of coveting–an attempt to gain the resources of others without providing anything in return.

Gambling has also been described as a form of voluntary theft.

II. Gambling Affects Our View of Others

A. Gambling distorts our love for our neighbor (Philippians 2:3-4).

Scripture commands us to be concerned about the welfare of others. Gambling, on the other hand, leaves a trail of human misery in its wake.

B. Gambling exploits the most vulnerable members of society (Zechariah 7:9-10).

We are instructed to look out for the needs of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the oppressed of our society. Gambling preys mercilessly on these groups.

C. Gambling presents a poor witness to others (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

Scripture commands us to conduct ourselves in such a manner so that our actions direct nonbelievers to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble.

III. Gambling Affects Our View of Ourselves

A. Gambling distorts our view of stewardship (Matthew 25:14-30).

Jesus tells us that we are going to be called to give an account for how we invest our treasures. (See attached documentation and examples.)

B. Gambling undermines our work ethic (Genesis 2:15; Exodus 20:9).

Work is an essential ingredient of the divinely created order. Gambling mocks the need for work by selling the illusion of gaining something for nothing. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 31; Ephesians 4:28)

C. Gambling centers around greed (1 Timothy 6:10).

The love of money is the root of all evil and the love of money is at the very heart of gambling. Gambling proponents often claim that gambling is simply another form of entertainment. (cf. Matthew 6:31)

IV. Conclusion

God calls all of His children to a life that is above reproach in both our personal and public life:

Ephesians 5:3 – Greed should not be named among the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 – Avoid appearances of evil.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – We walk by faith and not by sight.

Gambling is to be avoided at all costs at all times for all people.

H.B. London Jr., Vice President, Ministry Outreach Division, Stan Kellner, Manager, Pastoral Care, Ministry Outreach Division, Ronald Reno, Social Research Analyst, Public Policy Division



When gambling expands, so does the number of gambling addicts. It is estimated that close to 10 million Americans now have a gambling habit that is out of control–and the number is growing daily.

The number of compulsive gamblers will increase between 100 and 550 percent when gambling is brought into an area, according to University of Illinois Professor John Kindt. 1

In Iowa, the number of individuals with serious gambling problems more than tripled after casinos were introduced. 2

Casinos earn more than half their revenues from problem and pathological gamblers, according to Earl Grinols, University of Illinois economist. 3

The average debt of a gambling addict in treatment ranges between $18,000 and $50,000, according to Illinois State University Professor Henry Lesieur. 4

Twenty percent of compulsive gamblers attempt suicide, according to the National Council of Problem Gambling. 5

Family Devastation

Gambling has proven to be a devastating adversary to an already struggling American family. Thousands of families have been destroyed by gambling addictions; thousands more are in a state of crisis.

Harrison County, Miss., has averaged 500 more divorces per year since casinos arrived. 6

A 1995 survey of compulsive gamblers in Illinois found that 26 percent were divorced or separated due to gambling problems. 7

Domestic violence and child abuse increase dramatically when gambling comes into an area, according to a 1995 report from Maryland’s attorney general.8

The Gulf Coast Women’s Center in Biloxi, Miss., has received an average of 400 more crisis calls per month since gambling’s arrival. 9

Central City, Colo., experienced a six-fold rise in child protection cases the year after casinos arrived. 10

Children of compulsive gamblers do worse in school than their peers, are more likely to engage in substance abuse, are more susceptible to gambling and eating disorders, and are more prone to depression, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. 11

Adolescent Addicts

Adolescents may be the biggest victims of America’s gambling obsession. Despite age restrictions, teens are able to access legalized gambling with regularity–and they are paying a heavy price.

Roughly six percent of American adolescents (more than one million) are already addicted to gambling, according to Howard Shaffer of Harvard Medical School. One in six teens experiences gambling-related problems. 12

At least three-quarters of high school seniors gamble. 13

In 1995, University of Minnesota researchers discovered that more than half of underage Minnesota youth surveyed had participated in legal gambling activities. 14

Teens are three times as likely as adults to become addicted to gambling once exposed, according to Loma Linda University Medical School Professor Durand Jacobs. 15

At least one in 10 teens, engages in illegal activity (stealing, shoplifting, selling drugs or prostitution) to finance their gambling, according to Durand Jacobs. 16


Crime and gambling are inseparable partners, as communities with gambling can readily attest.

The crime rate in gambling communities is nearly double the national average, according to a 1996 U.S. News & World Report analysis. 17

Three years after casinos arrived, Atlantic City went from 50th to first in the nation in per-capita Crime. 18

Half of Louisiana district attorneys surveyed in 1995 cited gambling as a factor in rising crime rates in their jurisdictions. 19

Organized crime has infiltrated a number of legal gambling operations, according to a report from the Maryland attorney general. 20

At least two-thirds of compulsive gamblers turn to crime to finance their addiction, according to Valerie Lorenz, director of the Compulsive Gambling Center in Baltimore. 21

Top law enforcement officials strongly oppose gambling. Thirty-year Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelley said, “(T)here has never been an issue that has disturbed me any more than the proliferation of gambling in our state.”22


Legalized gambling makes poor people poorer. It also adds individuals and Families to the poverty rolls.

Gambling is a regressive form of taxation. The poor lose the greatest share of their income to gambling, as various studies show. 23

A 1995 study of casino gamblers in Wisconsin found that half had household incomes below $30,000. 24

Those with incomes below $10,000 comprise 7 percent of Illinois riverboat gamblers. They report median gambling losses of $1,900 annually. 25

The poor and minorities are more prone to gambling problems, according to Henry Lesieur. 26

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that more than 1,000 Minnesotans file for bankruptcy annually due to gambling losses. 27

The Detroit News reports that gambling-related bankruptcies in metro Detroit have increased up to 40-fold since the opening of a large casino in neighboring Windsor, Ontario. 28

Economic Mirage

The gambling industry’s mantra of jobs, economic development and tourism is an enticing one–but it is false. Gambling has failed to live up to its lofty promises time and time again.

Earl Grinols found that the introduction of casino riverboats in Illinois did not create additional jobs; they merely took jobs away from existing industries. 29

Counties that added casinos in the early 1990s have experienced no additional growth in new businesses, according to a U.S. News & World Report analysis. 30

Gambling’s ability as a tourism draw has been vastly overstated. Surveys in Illinois, Wisconsin and elsewhere show that gambling entrepreneurs make most of their profits from residents, not tourists. 31

Though gambling is often sold as a revenue boon to education, it has frequently failed to deliver. Often state legislatures simply redirect funds, resulting in no net benefit for education. 32

Each problem gambler costs society an estimated $13,000 to $52,000 per year. 33

John Kindt calculates that for every $1 the state receives in gambling revenues, it costs the state at least $3 in increased criminal-justice, social-welfare and other expenses. 34

Government Corruption

The gambling industry exerts tremendous influence in places where it has established itself Gambling-related political scandals have erupted in many states.

The gambling industry has become the single most powerful lobby in many states, according to U.S. Gambling Study author Robert Goodman. 35

In Illinois, gambling lobbyists include a former governor, former attorney general, two former U.S. attorneys, a former director of state police, a prominent former judge, a former mayor of Chicago and seven former state legislators. 36

Dozens of elected officials in Louisiana, Missouri, South Kentucky and West Virginia have been convicted or forced out of office on charges of gambling-related corruption. 37


1 Kindt, John Warren, “The Economic Aspects of Legalized Gambling Activities, “Drake Law Review, vol. 43, 1994, p. 59

2 Volberg, Rachel A., “Gambling and Problem Gambling in Iowa: A Replication Survey,” Iowa Department of Human Services, July 28, 1995

3 Grinols, Earl L., statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Sept. 29, 1995

4 Lesieur, Henry R., presentation before the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 28, 1995

5 National Council on Problem Gambling, Inc., “The Need for a National Policy on Problem and Pathological Gambling in America,” Nov. 1, 1993, p.7

6 Mississippi State Health Department, Bureau of Public Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Mississippi, 1994

7 Illinois Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling, Results of 1995 Survey of Gamblers Anonymous Members in Illinois,” June 14, 1995

8 Curran Jr., Maryland Attorney J. Joseph, The House Never Loses and Maryland Cannot Win: Why Casino Gaming Is a Bad Idea,” Oct. 16, 1995, pp. 32-33

9 Interview with Jane Philo, executive director of the Gulf Coast Women’s Center, Nov. 11, 1995

10 Long Patrick, Jo Clark and Derek Liston, “Win, Lose or Draw?,” The Aspen Institute, 1994, p. 54

11 National Council on Problem Gambling, op. cit., p. 7

12 Shaffer, Howard J., and Matthew Hall, “Estimating the Prevalence of Adolescent Gambling Disorders: A Quantitative Synthesis and Guide Toward Standard Gambling Nomenclature,” (in Press) Journal of Gambling Studies, July 22, 1994, p. 1

13 Ibid., p. 4

14 Winters, Ken C., Randy D. Stinchfield and Leigh G. Kim, “Monitoring Adolescent Gambling in Minnesota,” Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. ll, no. 2, 1995, p. 179

15 Jacobs, Durand F., “A 14-year-old Plays Cards for Cash: Is It More Than Fun and Games?,” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, Jan. 1995, p. 2

16 Interview with Durand Jacobs, Nov. 3, 1995

17 Shapiro, Joseph P., “America’s Gambling Fever,” U.S. News & World Reports, Jan. 15, 1996, p. 58

18 Goodman, Robert, “Legalized Gambling as a Strategy for Economic Development, ” March 1994, p. 58

19 Garland, Greg, “Crime Rising With Gambling, Sunday Advocate, July 30, 1995, p. 1A

20 Curran, op. cit. pp 40-45

21 Lorenz, Valerie, Let Me Just Christian Social Action, Christian 1994, Action July/Aug. 1994. P. 26

22 Kelley, Frank J., address before the International Conference on Gambling, Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 11, 1994

23 Abbott, Douglas A. and Sheran L. Cramer, Gambling Attitudes and Participation: A Midwestern Survey,” Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 9, no. 3., 1993, p. 259; Clotfelter, Charles T. and Philip J. Cook, Selling

State Lotteries in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 100; Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling, “Gambling in America,” 1976, p. 65; Borg, Mary 0., Paul M. Mason and Stephen L. Shapiro, “The Incidence of Texas on Casino Gambling: Exploiting the Tired and Poor,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, July 1991, pp. 323-332

24 Thompson, William, Ricardo Gazel and Dan Rickman, “The Economic Impact of Native American Gaming in Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Report, April 1995, p. 23

25 Better Government Association, “Statement of J. Terrence Brunner, Executive Director,” Nov. 3, 1995

26 Lesieur, Henry R. “Compulsive Gambling,” Society, May/June 1992, p. 48

27 Ison, Chris, Dead Broke,” Star Tribune, Dec. 3, 1995, p. A1

28 French, Ron, “Gambling Bankruptcies Soar,” Detroit News, Dec. 3, 1995, p. A1

29 Grinols Earl L. testimony before a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, Sept. 21, 1994

30 Shapiro, op. cit, p. 56

31 Thompson, Gazel and Rickman, op. cit; Better Government Association, op. cit.

32 Calonius, Erik, “The Big Payoff From Lotteries,” Fortune, March 25, 1991; Goodman, 1994, op. cit., pp. 143-149

33 Goodman, Robert, The Luck Business (New York: Free Press, 1995), p. 51

34 Kindt, John Warren, statement before a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, September 21, 1994

35 Goodman, 1995, op. cit. p. 190

36 Senator Paul Simon’s Monthly “Report to the Senate,” delivered on the Senate floor, July 31, 1995

37 Congressman Frank R. Wolf, Statement on H.R 497, The National Gambling Impact and Policy Commission Act of 1995″ before the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 29, 1995