Holiness and Gambling


Date written: September 9th, 2007
Scripture ref: Romans 6:19-22


TITLE: Holiness and Gambling

PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will look at the subject of gambling. What do the statistics say? What does the Bible say? What should the Christian do about this? We’ll look at this in four sections: 1) Gambling is about money. 2) Gambling robs the old, poor, mentally unstable, and you. 3) Gambling fosters lying and deception. 4) Other problems with gambling.

OBJECTIVE: That each would understand the facts associated with this problem and avoid gambling in their lives and encourage others to do the same.


1. Read: Romans 6:19-22

2. About the Text:

1) Paul mentions the concept of holiness twice in this passage.

2) Holiness is the product of living a righteous life.

3) It is in contrast to the old man who yields his body to uncleanness which produces iniquity.

4) Holiness is characteristic of the new man, who has been created anew in Christ.

5) Christians are to have their “fruit unto holiness” verse 22 tells us.

6) Holiness, at least in this context, isn’t so much a way of living itself as it is a result of righteous living.

7) That is to say that when we live righteously, or we do righteousness (as John tells us to do, 1 John 3:7) the result of that righteous living is holiness.

3. Concepts of Holiness

1) There are several words for the concept of holiness in the Greek New Testament.

a. The Greek word hIEROS refers to outward purity and mostly to things.

b. The Greek word hOSIOS refers to an individual’s faithfulness to God’s law – pure and chaste in reference to divine duty. It includes moral purity.

c. The Greek word hAGIOS refers to separation, consecration, and devotion to Deity.

d. The Greek word hAGNOS refers to that which is ceremonially pure or externally pure, unadulterated.

2) In Romans 6 Paul uses the word hAGIOS. So we’re dealing with the concept of separation, consecration, and devotion to Deity.

3) The emphasis then is upon acting in a way that would attain the result that we would be considered as consecrated to God.

4) We might say that one acts to be hOSIOS so that one can attain hAGIOS.

4. The subject of Gambling.

1) Mirriam-Webster defines gambling as follows: “1 a : to play a game for money or property b : to bet on an uncertain outcome 2 : to stake something on a contingency : take a chance”.

2) http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=gambling

3) This describes the outward signs of what it means to gamble.

4) But what drives gambling?

5) What are the attitudes behind gambling?

6) Is it something that when pursued will have its “fruit in holiness”?

7) Let’s examine this subject in light of God’s teaching on holiness.

5. Ref. to S, T, P, O.


I.   Gambling Is About Money

1. The statistics here don’t lie.

1) 2006 Statistics for Gambling are as follows:

2) Card room gambling is a $1.12 billion a year industry.

3) Commercial Casinos generate $31.85 billion a year industry.

4) Charitable Games and Bingo produce $2.33 billion a year in revenue.

5) Indian Casinos generate $22.62 billion.

6) Legal bookmaking: $130.5 million.

7) Lotteries: $22.89 billion.

8) Pari-mutuel wagering: $3.68 billion.

9) For a staggering total of $84.65 billion.

10) Source: http://www.americangaming.org/Industry/factsheets/statistics_detail.cfv?id=7

2. Motivations

1) Gambling is motivated by money.

2) Those who gamble are seeking someone else’s money.

3) Those who provide the gambling industry are seeking someone else’s money.

4) They are seeking this money in an inequitable way that is, with minimum effort and with no fair exchange of products.

3. Rationalizations

1) Some say gambling isn’t about the money.

2) It is about having fun.

3) It is about helping the economy.

4) It is about supporting the government.

5) Why don’t the casinos and others give the money back?

6) Couldn’t we help the economy by giving directly to the poor?

7) Couldn’t we simply send a check to the government if we want to help?

8) Gambling is first and foremost about the money.

4. This is covetousness.

1) Covetousness is, in part, the desire to possess another’s property without an equitable exchange for that property.

2) It is listed as a sin in Romans 1:29 alongside of murder and fornication.

3) It is listed as a sin in 1 Corinthians 5:10,11 and 6:10 among theft, idolatry and drunkenness.

4) It is listed as a sin in 2 Timothy 3:2 among pride, blasphemy and unholiness (ANOSIOS).

5) And Ephesians 5:5 says that those who practice it will not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

II.  Gambling Robs the Old, Poor, Mentally Unstable, and You!

1. Again, the statistics here don’t lie.

1) Nearly 90% of the people who visit Las Vegas gamble.

2) The average amount of money taken to places of gambling is over $550.00.

3) 68% of those who gamble play the slot machines most often.

4) The largest percentage of age group is 65 and over.

5) Only 35% of gamblers have earned a high school diploma (i.e. 65% don’t have a high school diploma.)

6) People with gambling addictions make up 5% of all players but 25% of state lottery and casino profits.

7) A U.S. News and World Report reported that between the years of 1990 and 1992 in a 55 country analysis that got new casinos in those years, the 4 percent increase in new business matched the rest of the nation in other areas. The conclusion was that gambling does not generate economic expansion.

8) Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gamble/etc/facts.html

9) Where do they get their money to do this?

10) Many get it from the government being on social security, welfare, or other such programs.

11) So who really pays for the gambling industry?

2. What is the Bible’s teaching regarding our attitude toward these individuals?

1) Old

a. Leviticus 19:32 “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.”

b. Proverbs 28:24 “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.”

c. Are we honoring the old when we take their wealth from them?

2) Poor

a. Proverbs 22:22 “Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:”

b. Ezekiel 22:29 “The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.”

c. Amos 8:4, 7 “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail… The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.”

d. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

3. Exodus 20:15 says, “Thou shalt not steal.”

III. Gambling Fosters Lying and Deception

1. Does gambling provide good jobs / support the economy?

1) In 2004, there were 1,857 institutions of gambling.

2) These institutions employed a total of 179,038 people.

3) Source: http://www.census.gov/epcd/susb/2001/us/US7132.HTM

4) In the same year, 2004, Casino sales were $28.93 billion.

5) Source: http://www.americangaming.org/Industry/factsheets/statistics_detail.cfv?id=7

6) If we simply took that revenue, bypassed the gambling industry altogether and gave it directly to those employees, it would result in each one having an annual income of $161,585.

7) What is the average salary of those employed in the gambling industry? – $25,000 a year plus full health benefits. And that is an average! Most make less than that.

8) Source: http://www.casinosoflouisiana.com/factmyth.htm

9) That is a difference of $136,585 per employee. I think they could afford the health benefits.

10) Regarding Electronic Gambling Devices they state: “This form of gambling creates few jobs and fewer good quality jobs, and it is not accompanied by any significant investment in the local economy.”

11) Source: http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/2.pdf

12) The truth is that the gambling industry only provides poverty level jobs for most of its employees.

2. Does gambling help the government?

1) In 1999 the National Gambling Impact Study Commission issued its final report.

2) Regarding state lotteries, they said the following: “Although lotteries often are seen as a principal source of state revenue, actual contributions to state budgets are exceedingly modest. In 1997 total own-source general revenues from the 38 lotteries ranged between.41 percent in New Mexico to 4.07 percent in Georgia.12 By contrast, state general-sales taxes and income taxes each averaged one-quarter of all own-source general revenue collected by states.”

3) The report also concluded the following regarding “earmarking” lottery funds: “Although earmarking might be an excellent device for engendering political support for a lottery, there is reason to doubt if earmarked lottery revenues in fact have the effect of increasing funds available for the specified purpose. When expenditures on the earmarked purpose far exceed the revenues available from the lottery, as is the case with the general education budget, there is no practical way of preventing a legislature from allocating general revenues away from earmarked uses, thus blunting the purpose of the earmarking.”

4) Regarding Riverboat Casinos, the report concludes: “In setting out to tap into their neighbors? pocketbooks, state governments have ended up tapping into that of their own citizens.”

5) Source: http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/2.pdf

3. Does gambling hurt anyone?

1) 7.5 million people suffer from problem or pathological gambling according to the 1999 report.

2) Consider the following thoughts from this same report.

a. “Problem or pathological gambling can affect the life of the gambler and others in varied and profound ways. The [National Research Council] study stated that ‘although the research in this area is sparse, it suggests that the magnitude and extent of personal consequences on the pathological gambler and his or her family may be severe.’?

b. “That report notes that many families of pathological gamblers suffer from a variety of financial, physical, and emotional problems, including divorce, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and a range of problems stemming from the severe financial hardship that commonly results from problem and pathological gambling. Children of compulsive gamblers are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and using drugs, and have an increased risk of developing problem or pathological gambling themselves.”

c. “In addition, according to NRC, ‘Bankruptcy presents yet another adverse consequence of excessive gambling. In one of the few studies to address bankruptcy, Ladouceur et al. (1994) found that 28 percent of the 60 pathological gamblers attending Gamblers Anonymous reported either that they had filed for bankruptcy or reported debts of $75,000 to $150,000.'”

3) Under a section entitled “The Costs To Society” the report says the following:

a. “In addition to the costs of problem and pathological gambling borne by the individual and his or her family, there are broader costs to society. NORC estimated that the annual average costs of job loss, unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, poor physical and mental health, and problem or pathological gambling treatment is approximately $1,200 per pathological gambler per year and approximately $715 per problem gambler per year.38 NORC further estimated that lifetime costs (bankruptcy, arrests, imprisonment, legal fees for divorce, and so forth) at $10,550 per pathological gambler, and $5,130 per problem gambler. With these figures, NORC calculated that the aggregate annual costs of problem and pathological gambling caused by the factors cited above were approximately $5 billion per year, in addition to $40 billion in estimated lifetime costs.”

b. “NORC admittedly ?focuse[d] on a small number of tangible consequences? and did not attempt to estimate the financial costs of any gambling related incidences of theft, embezzlement, suicide, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and the non-legal costs of divorce. As a result, its figures must be taken as minimums. According to NORC: ‘The current economic impact of problem and pathological gambling, in terms of population or cost per prevalent case, appears smaller than the impacts of such lethal competitors as alcohol abuse (estimated annual cost of $166 billion) and heart disease (estimated annual cost of $125 billion). However, the costs that are measured through health-based estimates do not capture all of the consequences important to the person, family, or society. The burden of family breakdown, for example, is outside of these measures.'”

c. Soucre: http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/4.pdf

4) The study also cites concerns regarding the following consequences of gambling:

a. Adolescent Gambling

b. Alcoholism

c. Drug Abuse

d. Suicide

e. Divorce

f. Homelessness

g. Abuse and Neglect

h. Source: http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/7.pdf

4. What do the scriptures teach?

1) Psalm 101:7 “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.”

2) Proverbs 20:17 “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.”

3) Colossians 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”

IV.  Other Problems with Gambling

1. Gambling is not being a faithful steward of our resources (1 Corinthians 4:2).

2. Gambling caters to enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).

3. Gambling undermines the value of honest labor (Ephesians 4:28).

4. The con artist deceives himself by saying, “I don’t take money away from other people; they give it to me,” yet we recognize him as nothing more than a witty thief. Why ought we not to see the gambling industry in the same light?


1. What have we learned?

1) Gambling is about money.

2) Gambling robs the old, poor, mentally unstable, and you.

3) Gambling fosters lying and deception.

4) Other problems with gambling.

2. Does holiness and gambling go together?

1) I think we can see that gambling is far from living a holy life.

2) As Christians who desire God’s holiness in our life, let us pursue the means by which we may be such.

3. Invitation

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