Gambling involves putting something of value at risk on the outcome of a chance activity, such as a game of cards, sports betting, lottery or casino games. It has existed in virtually every culture since prerecorded history and is often incorporated into local customs and rites of passage. However, there is a small subset of individuals who become so seriously involved in gambling as to experience negative personal and social consequences. This is known as pathological gambling, and if unchecked, can lead to an addiction.

In many cases, people who have a problem with gambling find it difficult to stop even though they know it is a dangerous habit. It is also common for gamblers to conceal their addiction from others in fear that they will be embarrassed or judged, and to lie about the extent of their involvement (known as “chasing losses”). Those with a gambling problem may even steal or engage in other illegal activities to finance their addiction (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

One of the most important factors in controlling the problem is limiting access to money. This can be done by getting rid of credit cards, having someone else control your finances or bank accounts, putting a cap on spending limits for online betting, and keeping only a limited amount of cash in your wallet or purse. In addition, it is advisable to avoid places where gambling takes place, as these environments can reinforce unhealthy behaviors.

Another factor is a change in attitudes. Many problem gamblers are attracted to gambling because it offers an escape from reality and a feeling of power and control. They often experience a traumatic event in their lives that can leave them vulnerable to becoming addicted, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, financial problems, or a job loss. People are most likely to become pathological gamblers during adolescence or after experiencing a major life stressor.

As Christians, we are responsible before God to use the resources He has given us wisely and responsibly (see Romans 14:12). Gambling is never a good investment because it is always a sure-fire way to lose. It is also a form of greed, which is condemned by Scripture (see Proverbs 23:7; 1 Timothy 6:10).

State-sanctioned gambling is a travesty that violates the God-ordained purpose of government, which is to protect citizens and suppress evil. It victimizes vulnerable people and promotes a vice that has been historically repressed because of its debilitating, corrupting nature. It is time to put a stop to this practice that harms so many of our fellow human beings.