Does the Bible prohibit outright the participation of Christians in the Lottery or other forms of gambling? I believe it doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean we have carte blanche to go ahead and chuck all of our money on the favourite of the 2:15 at Wincanton!
As with most things in this world we need to think about motivation, effects, secondary issues and moderation, and especially with gambling.
When I was growing up as a kid one of the highlights of Saturday was looking to see how well we had done with the football pools. Thinking about it still brings back great and warm memories, the voices of the announcer reading out how many points for each game, adding up the points to see many we had accumulated, and then the long wait for the announcement of the dividend a couple of days later.
For my parents what was their motivation? It certainly wasn’t greed or a love of mammon. They played it for the entertainment with the full knowledge there wasn’t a cat in hells chance of winning. It was something you just did, harmless entertainment.
When I was unemployed back in the 80s/90s I would often spend the morning looking at the racing form to put together a 5p Yankee bet. Loved doing it, loved watching the results come in but never enjoyed my winnings as they were few and far between!
However, there are dark sides to gambling. For some it feeds the addictive side of their personalities, it becomes like a drug and can strip then of common sense and bring them and those around them like their families crashing down. The Bible does warn us about this particular issue in Ecclesiastes.
The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Another aspect we need to be aware of is who may profit from our gambling? Certainly crime has deep roots in the gambling industry, especially unlicensed events.
Also if we are playing a ‘legitimate’ game where a certain amount of the profit goes to charity then what charities are benefitting? You should certainly check who is benefitting from your money and also what their agenda is. Currently the Big Lottery Fund which distributes the charitable funds from the UK’s National Lottery are embroiled in a row as they are accused of funding groups which have a political or social agenda which stands in contradiction to orthodox Christian faith.