Gambling: Enjoying Wealth Through The Losses of Others

The sin of gambling is condemned in the Scriptures as promoting greed, discontentment, materialism, uncontrolled appetite of covetousness, and destroying honest labor.

Sin of Gambling native American tribal casinos

A Sermon From Pastor Raymond Johnson of Indian Baptist Church, Smithville, OK


Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”


In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision recognizing the Native American tribes’ right to own and operate gambling enterprises on reservations. The intention of the decision was made law on October 17, 1988, with the passage by the U.S. Congress of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Prior to this, legal casinos existed in only two locations, Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Native American casinos are a central driving force of the nation’s renewed gambling craze. By 1997, 225 tribes in 27 states were operating newly legal gambling establishments on tribal lands. From one bingo hall in Florida in 1980, there are now more than 89 casinos and 170 high-stakes bingo operations with more opening almost every month. Most of the nation’s 318 federally recognized tribes are in or are trying to get into gambling. While Native American gambling represents a small percentage of gambling in America, the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and their entrance into gambling arena opened the flood gates to gambling all across America.

Traditionally, Government has encouraged citizens to be gainfully employed and to work hard in order to provide for family. Gambling undermines the basic work ethic by wanting something for nothing and the Government turns the mindset of its citizens to a chance or luck ethic instead.

The historic purpose of government is to be a protector of its citizens, not an exploiter. The role of the government is to promote the common good and to protect the general welfare of its citizens, not to exploit or take advantage of human weakness. For example:

  1. The Department of Education is meant to provide quality education for young citizens.
  2. The Department of Transportation is intended to provide the best roads and highways possible.
  3. The Department of Health attempts to care for general health needs and protect the citizens from infectious disease.

The Federal, State and Tribal governments or joining hands with the gambling predators to prey upon the citizens in making losers out of them and destroying the personal motivation to work.

Gambling is a major addiction which is classified as an impulsive behavior disorder. Gambling is known to be directly related to major problems of suicide, criminal activity, business failure, divorce, and family violence. Because of legalized gambling our government leaders have placed themselves in the position of promoting addictive and destructive behavior which has been proven to contribute to the downfall of individuals and the breakdown of families.  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

The sin of gambling is condemned in the Scriptures as promoting greed, discontentment, materialism, uncontrolled appetite of covetousness, and destroying honest labor. Gambling will violate some Biblical principles:

1. Gambling: The Desire for Wealth

(“Wealth” means “riches”. Wealth tempts our desire to covet.)

  1. Gambling encourages greed; (Luke 12:15; Hebrews 13:5; I Timothy 6:10)
  2. Gambling encourages materialism and discontentment; (I Timothy 6:6-9;  Philippians 4:11)
  3. Gambling discourages honest labor; (I Thessalonians 4:11-12; Proverbs 28:19; Proverbs 13:11; II Thessalonians 3:10)
  4. Gambling encourages get-rich-quick thinking; (Proverbs 28:20)
  5. Gambling violates God’s commandments; (Exodus 20:17; Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5; Proverbs 21:25-26; Psalms 119:36)
  6. Gambling undermines the teaching of the Sovereignty of God in the direction of human events, gambling looks to chance and luck. (Romans 8:28-30)
  7. Gambling violates the commandment of love to ones neighbor by seeking personal gain and pleasure at another person’s loss and pain. (Matthew 22:37-40)
  8. Gambling becomes a god and the gambler becomes its servant. (Matthew 6:24)

2. Gambling: The Deception of Vanity

(“Vanity” means “emptiness, no satisfaction, it’s temporary or short-lived”)

  1. Vanity pursues empty amusements to gain wealth.
    1. Fortune telling
    2. Astrology
    3. Gambling pays respect to heathen gods: (ex: Lady luck, Good luck charms etc.)
  2. Vanity encourages one to believe lies. Notice the lies one has to believe to gamble:
    1. Riches are the answer to life’s problems. (Luke 12:15)
    2. There is a better way to make money than God has provided. (II Thessalonians 3:10-12)
    3. My money is mine to do with as I wish. (Psalms 23:1; Psalms 50:10-12; I Corinthians 10:26)
    4. I should get ahead even at the expense of others. (James 5:1-4)
    5. God has not provided properly for me. (II Corinthians 9:8)

3. Gambling: The Diminishing Gain

  1. Riches obtained by vanity will fly away. (Proverbs 23:5)
  2. Riches used to satisfy self is like a bag with holes. (Haggai 1:3-6)
  3. Riches gained unlawfully produces fools. (Jeremiah 17:11; Proverbs 10:2)
    • Are you a fool? Are you a compulsive gambler?
    • Do you ever lose time from work due to gambling?
    • Does gambling ever make your home life unhappy?
    • Does gambling affect your reputation?
    • Do you ever feel remorse after gambling?
    • Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
    • Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
    • After losing do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
    • After a win do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
    • Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
    • Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
    • Do you ever sell anything to finance your gambling?
    • Are you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
    • Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
    • Do you ever gamble longer that you had planned?
    • Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?
    • Do you ever commit, or consider committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
    • Does gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
    • Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
    • Do you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
    • Do you ever consider self-destruction as a result of your gambling?

4. God’s Way: The Duty of the Laborer

(Two lawful ways to gain wealth)

  1. To work: (II Thessalonians 3:10)
    1. “Gather” means “to collect”.
    2. “Labor” means “with the strength and power of the hand.”
    3. “Increase” means “to bring to abundance.”
  2. To inherit: (I Kings 21:3)

The Lord Jesus Christ has power to deliver men from the addictive sin of gambling and make them responsible and hard-working providers for their families for the glory of God.