American morality, once anchored in the Bible to a much larger extent, continues to rapidly deteriorate in seemingly every area of life. One example of this, perhaps less noticed compared to others, is the recent, dramatic rise of gambling in the United States. According to Forbes magazine, “Americans gambled more money than ever before in 2021” (“U.S. Gambling Revenue Hit Record $53 Billion In 2021,” February 15, 2022).
Some might wonder, What’s wrong with that—especially if it’s legal? Gambling may seem like harmless fun and entertainment, but it often comes with very negative consequences for individuals, families, and society.
An article in The Atlantic published on November 26, 2021, identifies America’s gambling increase as a serious problem. In it, author Stephen Marche summarizes a new aspect of gambling that likely makes it more accessible and dangerous than ever: “Once there was Las Vegas; now there’s a Las Vegas in every phone” (“America’s Gambling Addiction is Metastasizing,” emphasis added).
In addition to digital gambling, Marche also explains another major reason that gambling has skyrocketed over the last few years: “The most straightforward reason for the surge in gambling is a change to the law: In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, opening the door to online sports betting across 21 states.”
Although it has rapidly become more popular in the U.S.—and other countries—over the past several years, gambling is not new and has always been a dangerous trap with terrible consequences. Beth Daley, an editor writing for The Conversation, wrote, “In the first national study of the social impact of harmful gambling in Ireland, we examined how it affected recovering gamblers, their families and friends…. Talking to people from all walks of life, from different age groups and different economic backgrounds, we found that a common theme was the devastating social effects gambling had on people’s lives” (“More than just financial loss, the social impact of gambling cannot be underestimated,” November 1, 2017, emphasis added).
Far from being a harmless form of entertainment, gambling often balloons into addiction. According to the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help, about 10 million Americans suffer from serious gambling problems (“Statistics of Gambling Addiction,” NAFGAH.org, accessed June 9, 2022).
The Mayo Clinic explains this terrible and destructive trap that millions fall into: “Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life…. [It] is a serious condition that can destroy lives” (“Compulsive Gambling,” MayoClinic.org, accessed June 9, 2022).
The Bible gives sound, reasonable, and balanced wisdom related to finances. Although it does not directly address gambling, it does contain many relevant teachings and principles clearly demonstrating that gambling is unwise and should be avoided, primarily because it can quickly lead a person into greed, addiction, and sin.
1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Notice that greed and covetousness for money are roots, or sources, of all kinds of evil that can lead Christians away from their faith and cause them great suffering.
Proverbs 15:27 states, “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house.” This well describes gambling addiction, as gamblers often bring serious problems into their relationships and households.
It’s also helpful to consider the Bible’s teaching about the proper use of money. For instance, Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” Gambling is not a proper way to honor God with one’s possessions—but it’s certainly a great way to lose them! Some godly uses of wealth are tithing to support God’s work (Malachi 3:8–10), providing for oneself and family (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10), helping those in need (Ephesians 4:28), and leaving an inheritance to grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22).
It feels like America is in the middle of a great fall, following in the final footsteps of every great nation and empire of the past. Gambling is just one small aspect of this, but as Stephen Marche insightfully wrote in the article mentioned above, “Gambling is a symptom, almost an allegory, of American decay.” In your personal life, that “decay” can be avoided or overcome with simple, God-given instructions found in the pages of His word, the Holy Bible.
Many people turn to gambling in an attempt to escape their problems, hoping that if they “hit it big” they won’t have to worry anymore. Sadly, this often only pushes them further into ruin. If you would like to know more about how to end the curse of gambling and learn sound principles for successful living, be sure to check out the telecasts “The Seven Laws of Success” and “Man’s Need for Purpose,” right here at Tomorrow’s World. Also, consider ordering the free booklets What Is a True Christian? and God’s People Tithe today!