Gambling a Bad Bet

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• Does God Oppose Gambling? • Is Gambling Sin? • What Does the Bible Say? Dr. Russell K. Tardo According to St. Augustine, “The devil invented gambling.” Whether or not one accepts Augustine’s conviction, gambling has been around for thousands of years. Augustus Caesar is said to have sponsored the first known public lottery in order to raise funds to repair the city of Rome. The Bible records that Roman soldiers gambled for the garments of Christ (Matthew 27:35), an action predicted in the Old Testament (Psalm 22:18). In the latter eighteenth century, lottery proceeds helped to fortify Colonial America against the British. But if the history of its use is long, so is that of its misuse. Loaded dice were found in the ruins of ancient Pompeii. Corruption, it seems, is the inevitable bedfellow of gambling. Corruption notwithstanding, various polls and studies have revealed that, in some form or another, gambling is practiced or endorsed by the majority of Americans. One reliable estimate is that 80 percent of adults gamble at least occasionally. Other estimates range from two-thirds of the population up to 88 percent.1 Obviously, this indicates that many Christians, too, are playing the office football pool, the lottery, bingo, slots, poker, horses, etc., and have invested some percentage of the 329 billion dollars gambled in the United States in 1992. What is Gambling? By definition, it is to bet money on the outcome of a game, contest, or other event. It means to play a game of chance for money or other stakes. It is further defined as wagering money, or something of value, on an uncertain event whose outcome is dependent either wholly on chance or partly on chance and partly on skill. However one defines or assesses gambling, one thread runs throughout its entire fabric⎯from the friendly Saturday night card game to the social club bingo to the full blown casino⎯the gains of the winners are made at the expense of the losers, and the gain is...
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