Let’s first define our terms. Life is all about calculated risk, like when a farmer plants a field of corn seeds or a businessman embarks upon building a new company. Jesus addressed situations like that when he told a parable about “counting the cost” (Luke 14:28).
What we are talking about here is trying to get something for nothing by risking something in a game of chance. Of course, there are degrees of risk, and that must be considered. A golf foursome agreeing that the loser buys dinner for the others will probably not result in God striking them with lightning on the first hole.
It is noteworthy that no Bible verse encourages gambling. Too often those who become addicted to gambling are motivated by greed, and too often they lose money they cannot afford to lose. Meanwhile, the gambling industry is happy to take your money, and seldom do we see a casino running a soup kitchen or offering to help someone who just lost his mortgage payment.
Another problem with participating in organized gambling like at casinos or the racetrack is that it supports the gambling industry, which is responsible for ruining countless lives. Research shows that the social costs of gambling are huge, and there are many stories of ruined lives, broken families, and failed businesses that always accompany the gambling industry. So if a Christian participates in organized gambling, he is not just involved with harmless fun or entertainment.
In light of what the Word of God says about how we as Christians are to live our lives with a total commitment to God, we should ask ourselves if there is really any benefit to even a little social gambling. If we win, we have taken money from someone without giving him anything in return. If we lose, we waste money we could have used for a godly purpose.
Once again, 1 Corinthians 6:12b comes to mind: “…All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” We have an article which may help in this area: “Fear: Face Explore Accept Respond.” See our book: “Don’t Blame God! A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering,” especially the Introduction.