Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


Gambling has been defined as playing a game for money or other stakes. It involves a hazard or wager and unnecessary risk. Concern is not with unavoidable uncertainties of life but with calculated attempts to secure a stake at the expense of others. Gambling in this sense was practiced in most of the world since earliest times, though comparatively unknown in some areas, e.g., among native Australians, Papuan Melanesians, Siberians, and SE Africans. The practice or prohibition of gambling does not correlate with either surplus or scarcity of property. Legal codes reflect influential thought and practice at various times and places and vary widely on gambling.

Scripture does not speak directly to the matter of gambling but speaks of stewardship of life and possessions, which come from God. 1 Co 10:31 shows that God expects His gifts to be used to His glory. For Christians the problem of gambling does not lie in objects or amount involved but in motivation prompting one to seek gain at the expense of others in contrast to imperatives of Christian love in all things toward all men. The sinfulness of gambling is rooted in the sinfulness of man. Examination of soc. ethics of gambling must be conditioned by confrontation of man by God in Christ.

A. L. Kroeber, Anthropology, rev. ed. (New York, 1948), pp. 552–553; C. Stocking, “Gambling,” Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, ed. E. R. A. Seligman and A. Johnson, VI (New York, 1931), 555–558; R. Sommerfeld, “What's Wrong with Gambling?” (St. Louis, n. d.); G. W. Forell, Faith Active in Love: An Investigation of Principles Underlying Luther's Social Ethics (New York, 1954); E. C. Devereux, Jr., “Gambling,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. D. L. Sills, VI (New York, 1968), 53–62. RS

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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